Are you here for the parade or the candy?

Every August we go to the Old Soldiers’ Day Parade in Alpharetta. Last year it started pouring down rain and everyone had to pack up and leave.

Soggy clown
Soggy clown

This year it was barely 80 and sunny. The Old Soldier’s Day Parade may well be the oldest established parade in the country. It started unofficially after the Civil War. all the Civil Veterans would set up camp outside of town for a weekend of doing whatever soldiers do when they get together. On Sunday, when it was all over with and they were headed home along the main road, everyone would gather along the side of the road to wave. That went on until after WWI when the old Civil War veterans invited the young WWI vets to join them. Then it fizzled out. In the 50s the American Legion Post in Alpharetta decided to revive the tradition. The day starts with a memorial service which we have yet to make, then the parade the free hot dogs from the Varsity at the American Legion. Although I don’t know if they did that this year, I didn’t hear anything about or anyone mention going. They also usually have a fly over that they didn’t this year unless they did it during the ceremony.

So it’s a great parade. Unlike Christmas, Memorial Day and Fourth of July there are no other parades going on so everyone is available. There are many veterans groups, four high school marching bands, lots of Boy Scout but no Girl Scouts this year, the Shriners from a couple of different temples (they’re weird but I love their little vehicles), motorcycles, the Corvette club and various other entries. And there is candy galore.

Neat motorcycles!
Neat motorcycles!
The Corvette Club
The Corvette Club

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American Legion trailer
American Legion trailer
Flip that fin!
Flip that fin!

A submarine crew has picked up a mermaid!

Raising the flag
Raising the flag

Raising of the second flag on Iwa Jima. The first flag was too small to be seen from the beaches where the Marines were landing and the battalion commander wanted to take it down before it got stolen by someone else who said he wanted it. So he called for a replacement and said “make it bigger”. This was the second flag and the photographer nearly missed it. He ended up taking the photo without looking through the view finder and wasn’t sure if he even got the photo. But he did.

Cute Shriner vehicle
Cute Shriner vehicle
"We ride so crippled children can walk"
“We ride so crippled children can walk”
There was a minor traffic jam when the little vehicle in front broke down
There was a minor traffic jam when the little vehicle in front broke down

And then there’s the candy. The candy has taken on a presence of its own. At most parades you’re lucky if you get one or two pieces. Here it’s by the pound. We didn’t know that the first year and weren’t prepared. In years past someone has walked around passing out grocery bags. Most people remember to bring their own.

You'd think they'd never seen candy before
You’d think they’d never seen candy before

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I got it!
I got it!

The official weighing.

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Sorting out the loot
Sorting out the loot
Katy wants to know how much candy you can fit in a sandwich bag. (That's all she's allowed to keep)
Katy wants to know how much candy you can fit in a sandwich bag. (That’s all she’s allowed to keep)

One thing I’ve noticed about the parade over the years is there’s fewer and fewer veterans. And it’s truly old soldiers, I don’t think there was anyone younger than Vietnam. There have been a few Desert Storm people in the past. I wonder if the American Legion is having a hard time getting people. With the younger generation keeping up in other ways I wonder what the role of the American and Foreign legions will be. Other than maybe lobbying.

But it’s always a fun time and we love going. We sit on the same stretch of sidewalk with the same people every year. For the first few years we had that stretch to ourselves, that explains the five pounds of candy year.

Katy at the 2005 parade
Katy at the 2005 parade
Kallie soaking up the belly rubs.
Kallie soaking up the belly rubs.

2 thoughts on “Are you here for the parade or the candy?

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