TIME-LAPSE: Ride along on our Veterans Day float

By Sarah Panko, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 4:51 PM EST

Frank Schmidgall was going to stop playing Santa Claus.

Dressed in familiar red and white, the Vietnam War veteran has sat in the same spot for the Orlando Veterans Day Parade every year for the past 15 years.

"I am what you call a charity Santa Claus," Schmidgall said.

But before his mother died, he promised her he would continue the tradition.

“I enjoy it. To watch their faces and to see the people in the parade passing out the candy, it’s fun. I hope they enjoy it," Schmidgall said.

But he doesn't just watch the parade, he buys candy to hand out to spectators. He said he spends hundreds of dollars and several hours getting the bags ready.


Frank Schmidgall passes out candy to Orlando Veterans Day parade-goers Saturday -- just like he's done from the same spot for the past 15 years. (Spectrum News 13)

"When we first started, we were passing out flags. Then I noticed on the way to the car to go home, the flags would be on the ground, and that hurt my pride," he said.

Schmidgall — who took his place hours before the parade started Saturday in downtown Orlando — said Veterans Day isn't just important for him.

"I’m still alive, so I’m out here every year and I enjoy it."

Despite a light sprinkle of rain, thousands turned out for the 18th annual parade, which featured scores of marching bands, ROTC units, floats, veterans and active-duty military members.

"I spent 23 years in the military, and they’re my veterans," he said.

Spectrum News 13 was a sponsor of the parade

Time-lapse video: Ride along with us on Spectrum News 13's Veterans Day float