PLYMOUTH — Thousands cheered for the annual America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration Saturday, as marching bands, first responders, military veterans, and floats recognizing the country’s Colonial legacy weaved through the city’s downtown to its waterfront.
“It’s about as perfect as you can get,” said Lee Spiro, 70, who played his baritone bugle as part of the New York Skyliners marching band in the parade. “It’s inspirational; it makes me want to play louder and harder.”
Throngs lined the parade route, which stretched more than a mile along Court Street, reaching Water Street, where anchors from WCVB-TV, including Randy Price, provided color commentary broadcast over loudspeakers along the waterfront.
Overhead, a Coast Guard helicopter made a series of passes over the parade route — the helicopter was low enough to see a crew member waving at the crowd below.
Floats in Saturday’s parade featured tributes to veterans of the country’s armed forces, including a large-scale mockup of an Army helicopter. Other floats celebrated the country’s technical achievements, including a model of the Apollo command module used by astronauts to voyage to the moon, or of the holiday season, with a display of a Christmas scene.
The parade is intended to highlight America’s heritage, from the 17th century to the present, according to the organizers’ website, including re-enactors dressed in the military uniforms of different periods, including Pilgrim-era Plymouth.
Among them was Stan Wollman, 69, a member of the New Plimmoth Gard, who was dressed in the armor-plated uniform of a pike officer, complete with a halberd — a long, pole-like weapon tipped with a blade.
The parade is important, he said, for what it stands for.
“It represents heritage, the American ideal,” he said, later adding that the parade had a message for spectators: “We are all American.”
Benjamin Edwards, 30, said his 2-year-old daughter, Phebe, loved watching the marching bands up close.
“This is my first time, but so far, so good,” he said.
Rebecca Petro, 40, recently moved to Plymouth with her family and attended the parade for the first time with her two children.
As she spoke, a group of military re-enactors fired off a volley of musketfire.
“We’re getting steeped in our new community,” she said.
Shannon Raeke, 25, who grew up in Plymouth, said she has fond memories of the parade from when she was a child, among them the elaborate costumes of the re-enactors, she said.
“I always thought the costumes were cool,” she said. “It just gets bigger and better every year.”
Mark Rocheteau, 42, watched the parade with several family members, and said he appreciates the tributes to the armed forces in the parade. Plus, Plymouth offers a special draw for celebrating Thanksgiving.
“It’s America’s hometown,” he said. “The story originates here . . . that has a definite appeal.”
John Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org