A spirit of community

This year
This year's Armed Forces Day parade filled the streets of downtown Bremerton with cars, bands and floats. Rear Adm. Gregory Bryant, deputy chief of staff for Fleet Maintenance, was the 57th annual parade's Military Grand Marshal.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

If Cris Larsen looked up the word “awesome” in his dictionary, he would find a picture of Bremerton’s 2005 Armed Forces Festival.

An estimated 80,000 people lined the streets, watched from roof tops and cheered at the 57th running of the Armed Forces Festival parade said Larsen, Armed Forces Festival chairman. The more-than-two-hour event featured 23 marching bands and 150 entries.

The free barbecue fed about 2,300 military personnel and their families with about 300 hot dogs going from griddle to plate in the first 10 minutes, festival officials said.

Following the parade, people ventured to watch the soap box derby or wander down the boardwalk or play games at Evergreen Park.

About 30 children and a few adults tossed eggs, had a tug-of-war and had plenty of fun in the meantime.

“We’re kids at heart,” said Shannon Wagner of Olalla. With him were Claire Misenar of Silverdale and children Parker, 7, and Austin 9.

“All of (the games) have been a lot of fun,” he said.

The Festival Americana at Evergreen was just one of the new events for this year’s festival. Another addition and perhaps the most successful was what has been dubbed the “mile long thank you card.” After this past weekend it is just under two miles long Larsen said.

“We’re inviting President Bush to be the last signature on the card,” he said.

He plans to bring back the card next year and widen its tour to include a Mariners game and runs on the Washington State Ferries.

While planning for 2006’s event doesn’t officially begin until September, Larsen has ideas in the works. An international barbecue cook-off and an arts and music festival are a couple of events he has in mind.

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