First Posted: 11/7/2010
RALPH NARDONE Times Leader Correspondent KINGSTON – More than 1,000 marchers are expected to parade from Kingston to Wilkes Barre’s Public Square today when the 65th Annual Wyoming Valley Veterans Day Parade steps off at 2 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Wyoming Valley Veterans Day Committee and the American Legion District 12, will showcase the theme “Enjoy Freedom? Thank a Veteran.” Organizers expect large crowds to line the parade route, which starts at Rutter Avenue and Market Street in Kingston, proceeds over the Market Street Bridge and circles the square where the reviewing stand will be located. Rear Adm. Patricia Wolfe will serve as the review officer and Capt. Bruce Lavin as parade marshal. Parade coordinator Sgt. John Paul Karpovich said the Wyoming Valley Veterans Day Parade Committee received a great response from local groups wanting to participate. “They showed how they want to give back to the community and honor veterans,” Karpovich said. “They were more than welcome (to join the parade).” This year’s parade features eight military marching divisions, patriotic themed floats, marching bands, military and fire department vehicles, the Irem Clowns and local students who participated in the 4th Annual Veterans Day Essay Contest, he said. In addition the members of the Marine Corps will begin their 2010 Toys for Tots campaign asking spectators to bring donations, which they will pick up as they march, he added. Karpovich said the veterans truly enjoy seeing the people stand up and applaud to show their appreciation as they march by. He added the best area to view the parade will be near the 109th Field Artillery Armory on Market Street. Other marchers include local, state and federal officials, civic groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, representatives from each branch of the military, and officials from local veterans organizations. Parade chairwoman Lt. Cmdr. Susan Allen, who retired from the U.S. Navy in 2008 after 20 years service, said this year’s host service will be the Navy. The Navy’s Ceremonial Guard from Washington, D.C., will perform silent rifle and sword drills in honor of that branch of the military, she said. Allen, who now teaches in the Tunkhannock Area School District, takes pride in the essay contest, which brought in hundreds of entries from local middle and high school students. "That was my baby," she said. The essay assignment challenged students to explain why they should be proud of our veterans, Allen said. Forty essays made it to the final judging stages. Twelve were chosen as winners. Their placements will be announced at the parade. The winners were: Elizabeth Moore, 11, a fifth-grader at 10th Street Elementary in Wyoming; Jamie Murray, a fifth-grader from Tunkhannock Area Middle School; Tommy Shafer, a fourth-grader from St. Jude’s School, Mountain Top; Bianca Cantando, a fifth-grader from Gate of Heaven, Dallas; Rachel Rinehimer, a seventh-grader from St. Jude’s School; Katelyn Stemrich, an eighth-grader from Good Shepherd Academy, Kingston; Megan Connelly, an eighth-grader from Hanover Area Jr./Sr. High School; Abbie Bendick, an eighth-grader from Dallas Middle School, and Bailey Novack, an 11th-grader from Coughlin High School. “The kids’ appreciation of veterans and their ability to express themselves is incredible," Allen said. "It is absolutely inspirational," she added. Allen asks parade-goers to continue to show their support and make sure to bring toys for the Marines. Two Rotary Clubs – Rotary Club of Wilkes-Barre East and Rotary Club of Wilkes-Barre – are hoping that parade participants and spectators will patronize their spaghetti dinner fundraiser being held at Genetti’s Hotel and Conference Center on Market Street today from 1 to 6 p.m. All proceeds benefit Polio Plus, an international effort to eradicate polio. Dinners are $8 for adults, $4 for children and takeouts are available.