Patriotic parade draws thousands
By JOSH O’GORMAN
STAFF WRITER | May 06,2013
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Members of the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps. fire muskets on Merchants Row during the 50th annual Loyalty Day Parade on Sunday in Rutland.
Long after its Cold War origins have been relegated to history, the annual Veterans of Foreign of Wars’ Loyalty Day Parade is going strong.
Spectator turnout would have been best measured in thousands during the hourlong parade Sunday, which began on Madison Street and wound its way through downtown residential neighborhoods and commercial districts until it reached Depot Park on Merchants Row.
People came out early to claim prime real estate along the shaded west side of Merchants Row, or enjoyed a candied apple and carnival ride at the Cairo Shrine on Washington Street.
According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Loyalty Day began in 1921 as “Americanization Day,” which itself was a reaction to the May Day celebrations of the recently formed Union of the Socialist Republics.
Loyalty Day parades are not as popular as they once were, but Rutland was joined in celebrations across the United States, from of Batavia, Ill., and a two-day event this weekend in Long Beach, Wash.
Rutland’s parade included fire trucks from Rutland City and surrounding towns; school marching bands from Mill River, Rutland Town, Proctor, West Rutland and Rutland City; and members of VFW posts from as far away as St. Albans.
The parade also included muskets fired by members of the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps.
Members of law enforcement took extra precautions against terrorism, according to Sgt. Matthew Prouty with the Rutland City Police Department.
“The patrol division, leading up to the parade, looked at the parade route for anything out of place,” Prouty said. “Also, the State Police went over the route with bomb-sniffing dogs.”
Police found neither bombs nor anything out of place, Prouty said.
Ed McLaughlin of West Rutland wore an American flag bandanna on his head as he waited near Depot Park for the parade to arrive. He said his parents began bringing him to the parade when he was very young, and as a teen he played drums as he marched with the West Rutland High School Band.
“This is the 50th anniversary and I’m 52, so I’ve probably seen most of them,” McLaughlin said. “I think we’ve got lots of reason to observe this recently, with what happened in Boston. This is an actions-speak-louder-than-words show of support for our country and those who defend it.”
U.S. Army veteran Tom Asma, of Chittenden, discussed his feelings on Loyalty Day as he waited for the parade to arrive.
“This is a day dedicated to honoring the country in total. We are the United States and we are united in our love for our country,” Asma said. “It’s a chance for parents to bring their kids out and see the police marching, the firefighters marching, the veterans marching and all the components that make up a government.”