39th Honor America Days celebration
ROME — With the fanfare of marching bands, local businesses and entertainers lining the streets, capped off with a spectacular fireworks display booming overhead to Symphoria’s performance of the “1812 Overture,” the city and Rome Area Chamber of Commerce are ready to present the 39th Honor America Days celebration.
Honor America Days will take place from Friday, July 29 through Wednesday, Aug. 3 with the theme, “Let’s Celebrate!”
The annual Honor America Days Parade is set to kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday on Upper North James Street near the Rome Health offices, featuring more than 110 units consisting of several hundred participants. Parade marshals representing the Henry P. Smith Post American Legion will lead each division.
The parade will continue to West Embargo Street, past the reviewing stand at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post at the corner of North Washington Street, and on to North George Street while continuing to its conclusion in the downtown area.
Dee Swinney and family will be doing the judging for the “Ronald A. Swinney Best In Parade Awards” for first and second place. Additional awards are: Organization, first and second place; Most Interactive with Spectators; Most Inspirational; Best Use of Theme; Most Creative Use of Music and/or Props; Best Costumed; Judges’ Favorite; and HAD Committee Choice.
The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate will also participate in the Honor America Day celebration. Air Force Research Laboratory military personnel will march in formation and display technologies from AFRL at the event.
“We are thrilled to continue our support of this great event honoring America,” said Col. Fred Garcia, commander of the AFRL Information Directorate. “The City of Rome has an incredible history of serving our country; the great people of this community have shown their generosity and support to our people and our mission here at AFRL on many occasions. I’ve been to many places in my career, and I’ve never seen such a high level of support and cooperation as what the area of Rome brings.”
The AFRL military formation will be led by Col. Garcia and by an Air Force Color Guard. It will also showcase some of the technologies from the laboratory, including an autonomous robotic dog and innovative vehicle displays featuring current and emerging capabilities for the USAF Warfighter.
The AFRL formation will be accompanied by members of the Air National Guard and Eastern Air Defense Sector.
A few other groups to participate include Rome Police, Rome Fire Department and Oneida County Sheriff’s; Lee American Legion Post 1794 Color Guard; Knights of Columbus Council 391; Central New York Police & Fire Band; Rome Rotary; Fort Stanwix National Monument; Fritz’s Polka Band; Bethany Gardens; Rome Historical Society; Vietnam Veterans Chapter 944; First Source Federal Credit Union; City of Rome Parks and Recreation Department; Bailey’s Karate School; North Star Allstar Cheerleading; Hit Men Brass Band; Ziyara Shriners; Davidson Auto Group; Nascentia Health; King Pin Lanes; First Presbyterian Church, as well as several more civic groups, businesses, area politicians and candidates.
Following the parade will be the Honor America Days Carnival from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, at Franklyn’s Field, 1106 N. James St. The carnival will feature music, games, inflatable rides and treats like snow cones and cotton candy.
As tradition, Fort Stanwix National Monument will host the Pops Concert on the lawn of the fort, performed by the Symphoria orchestra from Syracuse at 8 p.m. Symphoria will feature conductor Richard Clark and vocalist Jessica Montgomery. Attendees are asked to bring blankets and lawn chairs.
Musical selections are to include patriotic tunes such as the “Star Spangled Banner” and Armed Forces Salute, as well as contemporary pieces like “The Force Awakens,” “Unforgettable,” “Cowboys Overture” and “Skyfall.”
Music following intermission is to include the “Washington Post March,” “Belle of the Ball,” “God Bless America,” “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the famed “1812 Overture” that will be performed during the city’s fireworks display by American Fireworks.
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo, also the chairman of the HAD Committee, said earlier this year the city was hoping to make Honor America Days — especially the annual parade — bigger and better than ever before after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. And participants have more than met expectations, she said.
“It’s continuing to grow, and we’re still getting entries,” Izzo said. “With a two-year absence, we weren’t sure if the parade would come back, but it’s back in full force and it looks like it will be a beautiful day — a great day for the parade and symphony concert at night.”
The mayor said everything is in place for all the festivities and that HAD is being supported by several sponsors.
As for the musical entertainment supporting this year’s parade, “We didn’t know how much music we’d get, because many bands disbanded during the pandemic, but we have more than enough music,” Izzo beamed. “I think people will have a really nice time, and it will be an enjoyable event all the way around.”
And the new carnival to be held at Franklyn’s Field, “We hope people will take advantage of that,” the mayor said, adding that she hoped it would fill the “lull” between the parade and concert, keeping visitors in Rome. “We try different things each year to add to Honor America Days, and we’re hoping the carnival adds to the event’s success.”
Major sponsors of Honor America Days are the Christopher P. Destito Fund of the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida County, Inc., Revere Copper Products, Inc., Hannaford, the National Park Service, Rome Health, Capraro Technologies, Inc., Stewart’s Shops, Air City Lofts, Sovena, AmeriCU Credit Union, Express Employment Professionals, LCS Janitorial Service and Supply, Inc., Orgill, KrisTech, Woodmen Life, National Grid, Berkshire Bank, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Market 32, Price Chopper, Assured Information Security, CRM Rental Management, Inc., Liberty Affordable Housing, Inc., American Fireworks, Utica Mack, Turning Stone Resort-Casino and Sentinel Media Co.
Rome Rotary Club will follow the Honor America Days festivities with its annual CanalFest at Harbor Way Friday through Sunday, Aug. 5-7.
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