This year’s Rose Parade was held on May 16th with pleasant weather and eager participation from groups big and small. The veteran community participated with an assortment of entries including the POW cage and tower, military vehicles, several Color Guards, and a uniquely designed Chapter 223 float that won first prize in its category.
The parade began with the Santa Rosa’s Police Department’s Motor Patrol Unit on BMW motorcycles executing a simple but well-choreographed maneuver signaling the beginning of the parade. What followed was a cavalcade of floats, vehicles, and people of all ages walking and riding to this year’s theme, “Out of a Storybook”, which allowed for a wide range of creativity, interpretation, and expression.
Heading up Chapter 223’s parade entry was “big Joe” Cholewa. Big Joe has chaired our parade committee for several years now and has won a few first place awards for the Chapter. Joe and a dedicated group of volunteers struggle every year to come up with something that represents Vietnam Veterans and also provides a comfortable place for those who can’t walk in the parade to ride and show their pride. The Color Guard was present and looking good and some Chapter 223 members walked carrying the Chapter banner while others rode in vehicles--all displaying the pride of a generation of veterans who are active in the community serving all veterans, both young and old.
Other veterans groups participating in this year’s parade were Sonoma County Vet Connect, AMVETS Post 40, Marine Corps League Detachment 686, and The Santa Rosa Chapter of The Military Officers’ Association of America (MOAA).
The Santa Rosa Rose Parade marks the unofficial start of summer for the Sonoma County veteran community which is the busy season for fundraising. I hope it will be fruitful year.