Vice President Biden leaned over to veteran Ruthie Severino, gave her a big bear hug, and thanked the former Navy Wave for her years of service.

Moments earlier, from the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse, where he had come to participate in the 52d annual Media Veterans Day parade, the vice president told the crowd of 500 to reach out and help veterans and their families.

"All they want to know is that you know," Biden said Friday.

The crowd applauded. The bear hug's recipient exulted.

"What an honor," said Severino, 73, of Newtown Square. The recently retired Riddle Hospital nurse was dressed in her original Navy uniform. "We are such a small town - Media is not on the map - and for him to come here and honor us."

Few main streets are as quintessential as State Street in Media. With its brick sidewalks, trolley tracks, old-time general store, and Veterans Museum, it's little wonder Media has been called "Everybody's Hometown" by locals.

Friday's parade was teeming with tradition.

The event kicked off at 11:11 a.m. to commemorate Nov. 11, the federal holiday honoring military veterans. High school bands from across the region marched to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "God Bless America," and other tunes well-suited for patriotism and parades.

Veterans' organizations, motorcycle groups, a float with a helicopter, and antique cars proceeded past flag-waving crowds along State Street and around to the courthouse.

A bulldog dressed as a mini-Marine performed tricks for treats before the grandstand. Also in costume was Brian Woodcock - dressed as Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur. He stood up in a World War II-era jeep and saluted the giant flag hanging at the courthouse steps.

A native of Britain, Woodcock said he had survived the bombing of London. He told of begging American GIs for food and chewing gum.

A retired Boeing helicopter flight-test engineer, Woodcock said he was often called upon to play MacArthur at parades "because I look like him."

Biden greeted local leaders in front of the 1913 Classical-Revival-style courthouse, including Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan and county officials John Whelan, John McBlain, and Tom McGarrigle, who marched in the parade.

The vice president was following a well-trod path. William Jennings Bryan and Ronald Reagan addressed crowds from the courthouse steps, which faces Veterans Square. More recently, in the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, spoke at the square.

Biden was introduced to Friday's audience by his wife, Jill. Much of his speech centered on the sacrifices veterans and their loved ones made. He told the cheering crowd the Senate had passed a bill Thursday that offers tax breaks to businesses that hire out-of-work vets.

"We demand that the House pass it now," Biden said, sounding more like a candidate.

Which he is. The trip was his 31st to Pennsylvania, a perennial battleground state in presidential elections, since taking office. It came on the heels of a Tuesday visit from his boss, President Obama, to a Head Start center in Yeadon.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney in a dead heat among likely voters in Pennsylvania.