ROCKINGHAM — As the sun shone down on East Franklin Street early Wednesday afternoon, Robin Roberts — joined by Beth Gorman and Sarah Thompson — walked along the route for the upcoming Veterans Day parade to remind local businesses about the event.
“(We’re) also asking them if they will decorate their businesses or put out a flag,” she said.
Roberts, president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary to Post 4203, said organizers will also be handing out U.S. flags to the businesses on the Thursday before the parade “for them to hand out to the customers or the people on the route, so everybody along the route will have a flag they’re flying.”
Former Rockingham mayor and state senator Gene McLaurin bought the 500 handheld flags, Roberts said.
As of now, Roberts said she has more than 40 participants signed up for the parade, which is the first one the city has held in more than 20 years.
“I’m still getting emails and calls,” she said, so the final number is yet to be determined. However, Roberts added she will have a final count when the committee meets on Saturday.
With Hurricane Matthew putting a damper on the annual homecoming parade last month, Roberts said she’s combining some of the floats for a bigger turnout.
“A lot of the kids that built floats for homecoming and weren’t able to use them are going to use them in the Veteran’s Parade,” she said.
The opening ceremony will take place on the steps of the old Richmond County courthouse, with Charity Davis singing the national anthem, AMVETS leading a prayer, a 21-gun salute and McLaurin as the guest speaker.
The route will take the parade down East Franklin Street, around First United Methodist Church on to East Washington Street and through Harrington Square before ending at the Department of Social Services parking lot.
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team, the Black Daggers, are also scheduled to fly high above the city, tenatively touching down near the old Lowe’s building on Greene Street at the end of the parade.
“That was my dream when I joined the Auxiliary was to have a parade (for the veterans), because they deserve one,” Roberts told the Daily Journal after obtaining the permit in mid-August.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.