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Sandston Memorial Day Parade draws crowds



As he surveyed crowds of people smiling and waving American flags, Joe Bell felt right at home.

“I think we need more of this,” Bell said, as he maneuvered his personally retrofitted Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine along Williamsburg Road in the Fourth Annual American Legion Post 242 Sandston Memorial Day Parade. “There’s too much hatred, too many wars, don’t you think? A little more love would be good. … I’m 71 years old and I never knew when there wasn’t a war going on somewhere.”

Bell and his wife, Judy, raised their four children in Sandston and only moved away when he retired and passed his family floor sanding business on to his son.

“This is our hometown,” he said as he reached out the window to wave to one of many residents who yelled “Hey Joe!” along the course of the parade, which started at Seven Pines Elementary School (where their four children went to school) and proceeded down Williamsburg Road to the American Legion building on JB Finley Road.

On a day dedicated to remembering those who have died in wars, the tone of the parade and following festivities was celebratory of not only veterans, but of the American spirit and community.

“It means a lot,” said Robert Brooks, a Gulf War veteran. “It means I know they respect what I did.”

Brooks attended his first parade to see a float of a Navy ship made by Cub Scout Pack 501, Cubmaster Dave Ludwig said, while the Cub Scouts shouted and waved flags behind him. Brooks lives at the Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center, where the Pack has volunteered.

“We wanted to do this for Mr. Brooks, because they’ve done so much for us,” Ludwig said. “So that’s his boat!”

The parade included a plethora of fancy cars, 21 floats, two horse-drawn carriages, the Highland Springs High School marching band, Varina High School drum line, Varina High School Junior Navy ROTC, two New Kent County fire units and several Henrico County units, said Temple Ancarrow, an Army Vietnam veteran and parade organizer with the American Legion.

“If it wasn’t for the veterans giving us our freedom, you wouldn’t be a news reporter, there wouldn’t be a Wal-Mart or anything, and we’d be another third world country,” Ancarrow said, explaining why it was important to him to be involved.

Putting on the free parade and celebration required the help of many community organizations, including the Eastern Henrico Business Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 666, Sandston Youth Association, Citizens and Farmers Bank, Henrico County Recreation and Parks, Kroger and Farmer’s Foods, Ancarrow said.

Kroger and Farmer’s Foods each donated 1,000 hot dogs, buns, chips and drinks, Ancarrow said. Every year, Boy Scouts from Troop 529 have cooked and handed out food from the concession stand across from the JB Finley Little League Field, he said.

“We’ve sent the tray back 10 or 20 times,” said Boy Scout Jon Marcinkevicius, who was handing out hot dogs.

The line for hot dogs stretched across the street all afternoon.

Eastern Henrico Business Association President Mark Romers said that Ancarrow had told him that there were none left over. Romers and the EHBA provided a separate page on their website for the first time this year to promote and inform the community about the parade.

“My biggest thank you goes out to Mark Romers. If wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have done this this year,” Ancarrow said.

Romers played the role of the parade clown in the EHBA golf cart with his son and grandson, driving along in front of the parade passing out 4,000 American flags, he said.

“That’s a lot of flags,” Romers said, laughing. “But everybody loves those flags.”

Bill Stewart, of Richmond, and his daughter, Amaris, were waving flags in their of chairs at the end of the parade route.

“We used to live in east Henrico, so this has been a tradition for us for the past four years to come,” he said. “It just has a great local American hometown spirit to it.”

On the Friday before Memorial Day, American Legion Posts 242 and 144 (from Highland Springs) and Boy Scout troops placed flags on the graves at Seven Pines National Cemetery, which is on a portion of former Civil War battlefield originally dedicated to the internment of soldiers from that war.

At noon on Memorial Day, there was a veterans recognition ceremony.

“We always go to the memorial ceremony,” Bill Stewart said. “Just the way they honor the veterans here is just a joy.”

Sandston resident and parade participant Don Lewis has worked for Martin’s for 20 years and served in the National Guard for 20 years but never saw action, he said. In the parade he drove the 1926 Model T Ton Truck once used to pick up fruit on the Ukrop’s farm.

“This is patriotic more than anything,” he said. “A lot of people lost their lives for this country of ours, and I’m just kind of proud to be here.”
Community

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

Henricus Historical Park to host Publick Day Sept. 20

Henricus Historical Park will commemorate its anniversary during Publick Day, a signature annual event that celebrates the establishment of the second successful English settlement in the New World. In September 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, along with soldiers, tradesmen and farmers, ventured from Jamestown to create the Citie of Henricus. Leaders of Henricus developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America, established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia, and created a place where Pocahontas lived and met John Rolfe.

Publick Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5 per vehicle. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Extras sought for AMC’s ‘TURN’

Paid extras are being sought to appear in the AMC television series TURN: Washington's Spies, which will begin filming its second season in the Richmond area at the end of September and continue through February.

No experience is required, but producers say that extras must have flexible availability, reliable transportation and a positive attitude.

Arvold Casting is holding an open call on Sunday, Sept. 21 and is seeking men, women and children who are Caucasian, African American and Native American, with thin to average builds and who can realistically portray people living in Revolutionary War times. Long hair is a plus but not a must. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


TGIF! Celebrate the weekend at Oak Hall Baptist Church’s Community Block Party on Saturday. Learn more about ballroom dancing, art and Colonial times. Or take the kids to Generation Z Games for water play or Southern Season to cook up a Disney-theme meal. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Check out these three B’s in Henrico this weekend: books, bluegrass and “Born Yesterday.” Other activities to participate in – and feel good about – are the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup and the 5th annual Richmond Out of the Darkness Community Walk. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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