While the Central PA 4th Fest draws crowds for its fireworks show and musical acts, it’s the annual Parade of Heroes that has residents lining the streets.
The 4th annual parade kicked off in the heart of downtown State College, the firetrucks, marching bands and public personalities weaving through the streets of Penn State’s campus to greet and toss candy to the applauding crowd.
The flash of firetruck lights and the flash of brass instruments are a common sight in many parades, but a documentary film crew may seem out of place. But Boalsburg resident Drew Gardan found himself carrying a foreign film crew in his 1918 antique car.
“A group from Denmark were doing a documentary while we were in the parade,” he said. “This TV guy is taking his mother all around the world for special events and surprising her. She doesn’t even know about tonight’s fireworks.”
Along with the film crew, the parade was a first for the car as well, Gardan said, saying he only purchased the car at a show in Carlisle this year. This year’s Memorial Day parade was the vehicle’s first appearance.
The parade was a learning experience for others as well. Olivia Perryman, 15, of Lamar, said playing clarinet and marching in time with the rest of the Bellefonte Band is more difficult than it looks.
“It’s a great experience,” she said.
Olivia said she has a real love of music and it meant a lot to be part of the parade.
“It’s just an honor to perform and know everyone loves what you did,” she said. “It’s just really fun and an honor to do.”
A military vehicle is a popular sight in any parade, and the arrival of the Army 2nd Battalion/112th Infantry Division’s eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle drew applause. Staff Sgt. Joshua Sterndale said it was his fist time to actually take part in the parade, and it was a great opportunity for a local reserve unit to be a part of the community.
“A lot of people don’t even know we’re around here,” he said, speaking of the unit’s location just north of campus. “We’re the only Stryker National Guard reserve unit in the country.”
Sterndale said the best part of any parade is the kids, who were all excitedly climbing into the parked vehicle. He also lauded Penn State’s ROTC program — one of the largest in the nation.
Troy Kerstetter, of Blanchard, watched the parade from the top of a small hill with his family. He said he was happy to see a military presence in the parade.
Kerstetter, who said he’s been coming to 4th Fest for about 10 years, said he thought there were more participants in the parade than previous years.
“I thought the parade was better than usual.”