When the march started five years ago, traffic on Galaxy Drive and Martin Way wasn't especially heavy on a Saturday morning.
"It is now and so we've listened to that," said Andrew Oczkewicz, the march's co-director. "We've shorted the route."
The march route will not go as far west on Martin Way nor will it cross the thoroughfare as in years past. Marchers will be on the road, and police officers will be on hand to direct traffic.
Traffic has steadily increased since the first march in 2003 because of the opening of new retail stores and especially with Lacey Marketplace, a large shopping center featuring Best Buy, Costco and Home Depot.
Past marches have drawn roughly 2,500 people, but Oczkewicz expects a record crowd Saturday.
Organizers already have raised $42,000 from local businesses and residents, and expect to reach their goal of $50,000 with smaller donations the day of the event. While donations are encouraged, a donation isn't required for families to participate in the march or the preceding events.
The four previous marches have raised more than $150,000, which has gone to directly benefit military families by providing them financial help to pay for child care, purchase gifts during the holidays, send their children to college and put food on the table, for example.
This year's grand marshal will be Tom "Tomcat" Nelson, believed to be one of two surviving World War II Navy veterans who witnessed Pearl Harbor and was taken prisoner of war. He lives south of Yelm.
In addition, organizers have named five honorary grand marshals, all local service members. They are:
n Army Maj. Hank Barnes;
n Army Maj. Brent Clemmer;
n Army Staff Sgt. Chess Johnson;
n Army Staff Sgt. John Paul Kaiser;
n Marine Sgt. Robert Rauch.
Christian Hill covers the city of Lacey and military for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5427 or at email@example.com.
Register for march
Registration for the fifth annual Military Family Support March begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart at 1401 Galaxy Drive N.E. in Lacey.
The march begins at 9:30 a.m.
Before the march, an expanded Kid Zone will be attended by well-known mascots and clowns and feature many activities and games. A helicopter will drop taffy down to the kids. The American Legion Band will provide the music. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, and First Gentlemen Mike Gregoire will attend.
For more information or to register online, visit www.militaryfamilymarch.com. For those who can't attend the event, contributions can be mailed to The Military Family Support March, PMB-122, 1401 Marvin Road N.E., Suite 307, Lacey, WA 98516.