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58th annual South Charleston Armed Forces Day Parade set for May 20

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter

A giant “cake” will be one of the highlights of this year’s annual South Charleston Herbert J. Thomas Memorial Hospital Armed Forces Day Parade, which begins at noon Saturday, May 20.

In fact, the cake prop will be a familiar sight all year in South Charleston, as the city celebrates its 100th birthday.

“The Armed Forces Day Parade kicks off the 100th birthday celebration; we’ll use it (the cake) at different events all year,” said Bob T. Anderson, executive director of the South Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is the parade’s sponsoring organization.

South Charleston’s Armed Forces Day Parade started in 1959, making it one of the longest running Armed Forces Day parades in the country.

“We’re the only Armed Forces Day Parade in West Virginia and the third longest running one in the United States,” Anderson said.

This year’s parade marshal is Brig. Gen. Paige P. Hunter of the West Virginia National Guard.

“She’s the first woman general in the National Guard,” he said.

According to her bio, Hunter is the chief of the air staff for National Guard and has served in that position since 2015. Hunter was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1983, upon completion of the Academy of Military Science.

Prior to her assignment as the chief of air staff, Hunter served as the human resource officer and the director of Military Support to Civil Authorities/J3, Joint Forces Headquarters, West Virginia National Guard.

Additionally, she served as the mission support commander, mission support flight commander and the chief of intelligence for the 130th Airlift Wing. Hunter also served four years as the secretary of the National Guard Association of West Virginia. She also served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

“We’re proud to have her as the parade grand marshal.”

The parade on D Street in downtown will feature more than 100 units, including the Andrew Jackson Middle School Band, various military vehicles, the Nitro High School Junior ROTC, area volunteer fire departments and veterans organizations. The South Charleston High School Black Eagle mascot will be in the parade, as will Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, dressed in patriotic attire.

After the parade, there will be a display of various military vehicles on the parking lot beside the South Charleston Public Library. Parade visitors are invited to have their pictures made with the vehicles.

Other highlights of the parade will include a commemorative postal envelope dedicated to the Armed Forces Day Parade. Also, 1,000 American flags and wristbands will be handed out along the parade route, and 5,000 pieces of candy will also be given away.

The parade will be televised on a delayed basis on WQCW. The broadcast dates are May 27, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.; May 28, from 2 to 3 p.m.; May 28, from 1 to 2 a.m. and May 29, from 7 to 8 a.m.

According to Anderson, about 200,000 homes in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky will be able to watch the parade on WQCW.

And it’s not too late to sign up to be in the parade. To participate, call the SCCVB office, 304-746-5552.


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