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Armed Forces Festival tops itself yet again

Children waved flags during the Armed Forces Day parade May 20. - Phtoto by Jesse Beals
Children waved flags during the Armed Forces Day parade May 20.
— image credit: Phtoto by Jesse Beals

A group of immigrants from the former Soviet Union putting up a roof in East Bremerton looked to the sky when the C-17 from McChord Air Force Base roared overhead.

“What is that?” a crewman asked the postman as he walked past.

“The sound of freedom,” he replied.

That scene took place away from downtown, but captured much of the energy of the kickoff to the 58th annual Armed Forces Festival, keyed by the longest-running Armed Forces Day parade Saturday, May 20.

An estimated 45,000 people lined the downtown sidewalks for the parade and the heroes’ barbecue immediately afterward served 6,000, said festival chairman Cris Larsen.

Larson said he was “ecstatic” about “the best Armed Forces Festival ever.”

“The weather held, the fly-over was amazing,” he said. “Number one was huge participation by every branch of the service. For everybody in Bremerton to have a chance to stand up and applaud members from every service, makes you feel ... (proud) to be an American.”

One local serviceman was familiar with the festival but had not experienced it from a serviceman’s standpoint before.

“It feels pretty good. We got a lot of cheers, people yelling and saying thank you,” said U.S. Army Cpl. Brandon Terryll. “It made me smile.”

Terryll grew up in Bremerton but has been stationed at Fort Lewis for the past year.

For Larsen’s part, it was special to be able to talk with Medal of Honor recipient Bud Hawk, who rode in the parade.

“Armed Forces Day came from what Bud Hawk did in 1945,” Larsen said. “He’s such a humble, gracious man that did so many amazing, incredible things. What an honor it was to have him in the parade.”

In addition to the parade, folks flocked to the culinary arts competition, “by far, the tightest competition in that event that I’ve ever seen,” Larsen said; the annual golf tournament; soapbox derby races; Kitsap HydroFest at Camp McKean and more.

“There’s too many people doing way too much for our country right now and if I can find a way to honor and support them, I’m glad to,” Larsen said.

Armed Forces Day Parade results

Courtesy of Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce

Commander’s Award (Best Military Band)- Navy Band Northwest

Sweepstakes Award (Best Float/Towed Display)- Nile Temple AAONMS

Grand Marshal’s Award (Best Veteran’s Unit)- River Boat Patrol – Gamewardens of Vietnam

Festival Award (Judges’ Choice)- Bremerton Health and Rehabilitation Center

People’s Award (Crowd Favorite)- Combat Veterans International

Freedom Award (Best Military Unit-Active or Reserve) M1A1 Abrams Tank, Bravo Company, Washington National Guard

High School Bands (AAAA) First Place: Central Kitsap High School

Second Place: South Kitsap High School

High School Bands (AAA)- First Place: Sequim High School

High School Bands (AA)- First Place: Klahowya Secondary School

High School Drum Major- First Place: Olympic High School

Second Place: Bremerton High School

High School Flag Corps- First Place: Bremerton High School

Second Place: Klahowya Secondary School

High School Drill Teams- First Place: Bremerton High School

Junior High School Bands- First Place: Kingston Junior High School

Second Place: Sedgwick Junior High School

Junior High School Flag Corps- First Place: Kingston Junior High

Second Place: Ridgetop Junior High

Junior High School Drill Team- First Place: Central Kitsap Junior High

Second Place: Kingston Junior High

JROTC/Sea Cadet Unit- First Place: South Kitsap NJROTC

Second Place: Bremerton NJROTC

Best Youth Organization- Royal Rangers on the Trail to Camp Courage

Best Civilian Vehicle Unit- Kitsap Mustang Club

Best Equestrian Unit- Kitsap County Sheriff’s Posse

Best Vintage Military Vehicle- Able Troop 113th Cavalry Squadron – NW Chapter

Best Vintage Agricultural Equipment- Albert C. Kean Post #149 American Legion

Best Band in Category Not Listed- Lions Cross Drum Corps

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