It wasn’t the biggest parade ever, probably one of the smallest.
But when Carrabelle celebrated its contribution Saturday to Camp Gordon Johnston, it was done with pride, in the spirit that has won wars.
Hanging overhead the comparatively sparse scene along the sidewalk and in the streets, was a beautiful huge flag, ordered by Carrabelle Fire Chief Carl Whaley and hung over Hwy 98, with two ladder trucks were from Carrabelle Fire Department and St. James Lanark Fire Department.
“The crowd today was slightly smaller than some years which was not surprising,” said David Butler, president of the organization dedicated to keeping alive and well the memory of the former training base that prepared the nation’s armed forces for wartime conditions in jungles and through other beachheads. .
“While we were very pleased that people did come out to support our veterans, we were especially pleased that they spread out for safety,” he said. “Spectators were not grouped up but found spaces good distances apart. Some people may have stayed home out of precaution.
“However we were thrilled that we had an exceptionally strong showing of participants in the parade,” Butler said.
“This year’s Grand Marshals, Bob Dietz and Jim Petrone, rode in the 1975 red Caprice convertible,” he said.
The MPVA, a group dedicated to preserving military vehicles, rallied 11 vintage conveyance units. Veterans were honored by three Shriner entries: Marzug and Alcazar Shriners, from Perry, Alcazar Shiners from Tallahassee and Shaddai Shriners from Panama City.
“The Shriner's funny cars and their large Krewe pirate ship float are always a crowd pleaser,” Butler said. “Parade spectators were not disappointed.”
A strong contingent of motorcycle riders included Southern Cruisers Riding Club - Forgotten Coast Unit 478; American Legion Riders; Coastal Crusaders LE Motorcycle Club; and Combat Vets Motorcycle Association 20-12 Tallahassee .
Some veteran's organization/units that regularly attend were American Legion Post 82 & Auxiliary , St. George Island Veterans Reveille Group, Korean War Veterans NS Citrus 192, VFW Post 4538, and Tallahassee Veteran Center
“We were excited that we had several new groups and several that hadn’t made it in recent years,” said Butler, These included Honor Flight Tallahassee, Lofty Pursuits Marching Band, Red Cross, Venture Cap Building Company, KK's All American Canteen Grill, Matt's Small Engine Repair, and Franklin Corrections Institution K-9 team.
“We haven't had one (a marching band) in several years,” said Sheri Wesson, who helped publicize the event. “They played patriotic music throughout the parade. After they were done they double backed and stood on the sidewalk across from Fathom's and played for all the rest of the parade marching by. They were wonderful.”
Butler said a handful of entries notified CGJ Parade coordinators late that they would not be attending. With as little as 24 hours, CGJ was informed by a few organizational entries that their organization's policy for attending activities and events were restricted and prevented their attendance. All of these stated they look forward to next year's parade.
One of those groups was the Wakulla High School JROTC Color Guard. With the color guard entry not being allowed to participate, Butler, as he has done twice before, carried the American flag as the colors always precedes the parade.