ATLANTIC CITY — The fourth Atlantic City Salutes America’s Armed Forces Parade on Monday featured some familiar and some new faces — the return of the military after last year’s sequester cuts and the first-time appearance of the Atlantic City High School Marching Band and other local groups.
The parade, the now-traditional kickoff to Atlantic City Airshow week, included 120 units, 184 vehicles and more than 1,500 people either marching or riding, among them Uncle Sam, a whole float full of Ms. New Jersey Senior Americas (singing that unfamiliar military hymn, “Hey Big Spender”) and the Town Crier of Smithville.
The co-grand marshals were Tony Orlando, sans Dawn, and Mayor Don Guardian, followed by Admiral Mark Buzby, Ret., an Atlantic City native, and the Wounded Warriors.
Kicking off the parade were Atlantic City police motorcycles followed by the roaring hogs of the American Legion Riders out of Post 352 in Somers Point.
“It’s great, exciting, well-organized, the ACPD doing a fine job as usual,” said rider Bill Butler, of Somers Point. “Even Tony Orlando came over and congratulated us. It’s a great night for the city.”
Arthur Stern, of Atlantic City and a Jewish War Veterans member, was one of many veterans pushed in rolling chairs down the Boardwalk.
“The place is amazing,” said the 82nd Airborne veteran. “It’s amazing the turnout we’ve had.”
Ed and Regina Bridge said they came out to support his nephew Don Lambardi Jr., of Ventnor, who is serving his second tour with the Army in Afghanistan.
“It’s always cool,” Bridge said. “Anything with the military.”
Though it was a night for the armed forces, a little of the current political and financial situation of the city couldn’t help to seep through. The Atlantic City resident was asked what the best part of the parade was.
“Not Don Guardian,” Bridge joked.
Pinky Kravitz, Press of Atlantic City columnist, WOND host and parade founder, announced the parade’s arrival to those seated in front of Boardwalk Hall.
The parade, said Atlantic City police Chief Henry White, was “something Pinky thought of, and he took it from nothing to what it is today.”
“The turnout is tremendous,” Kravitz said. “And there’s several young people in the parade who have never been in it before, like 50 kids from the the Boys & Girls Club and 50 kids from the the Police Athletic League. They asked for it. They want to be a part of it. It’s just thrilling to see the reaction.”
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