Harold Schrage: Community spirit shines on July 4

Jaden, 2, and Amber Smith cheer as the Fire Department drives past them on Main Street in Newhall during the Fourth of July parade on Tuesday. Samie Gebers/The Signal
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I personally live in the “other” valley. I have been involved with the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 355, for many years and share in our chapter’s involvement in Santa Clarita Valley events including Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July Parade.

I have to tell you that I’m so very impressed with the SCV community and its residents’ spirit. The parade brings out huge crowds and many, many smiles.

The “Lost Patrol’s” involvement in the parade is a positive way for us veterans and our families to share the better part of our life experiences. Your community pride is amazing and I for one love it.

We have been involved in the parades since the 1990s. You have so many generous people there who make these parades so successful and important for the young children; they need to see what our country is all about.

I want to thank the wonderful people who supported us for these many years as we prepare and participate annually. Most of our members are retirement age and these people make our entries possible.

Mrs. Nancy Gump Melancon and the Andy Gump Corporation once again supported us by providing the beautiful “Eagle Truck.” This year was especially poignant as the owner of that beautiful truck was Mr. Barry Gump, an active member of the community.

He unfortunately passed away a few months ago, and we were particularly honored to show his patriotic vehicle to the SCV community again.

Its design is appropriate for any community event, especially on an American holiday. We did our best to honor his memory marching and riding along the parade route.

The Fox family at Fox Feed provided straw bales to comfort our riders as they traveled on the streets. Panorama Towing provided us with a L-O-O-O-O-O-N-G tow vehicle that became our great float carrying the wonderful students of Mrs. Mary Purdy’s Canyon High School Madrigal Chorus.

These fantastic kids joined up with us during the last week of school and have been spending part of their summer days practicing their performance. They were loved by all who heard them sing live on the float.

Several Young Marines joined our flag honor guard to fill in for the members who were unable to march, but wanted to.

Another fine young lady is Briana Garden, a U.S. Navy Sea Cadet and SCV Girl Scout. She is working on receiving her GS Gold Award by working on projects to serve the community.

She did so much in a very short time to help us out, recruiting her family to help decorate our floats, running errands, loading bales and smiling to cheer us up.

Our own chapter members, Dennis Witzel and Sheila Chovan, the Ventrices, Nick Callas, the Galvans, the Sellings, the Scobies, and many others I can’t point out by name. It was a warm day for us but it was great.

God willing, we will be back next year to share this glorious event.

Harold Schrage is VVA 355 events director.

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