By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
This Saturday, September 9, join us by marching in the Parade of 1,000 Flags or show your support by lining the streets as the parade marches by. If you haven’t signed up to march in the Parade of 1,000 Flags, do not worry; you can show up at 8:30 a.m. at the staging area on China Lake Boulevard at the Sierra Lanes parking lot. After you register, you will be given an American flag. Bring the entire family; small flags will be provided for the children. “Please don’t bring your own flags. We will provide all the flags,” reminds organizer Scott O’Neil, Executive Director of the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation.
At the staging area of the parade, “There will be volunteers in bright colored vests that you can ask information of,” says O’Neil. The volunteers can help you find your group, “Or you can join a group.”
The parade marches down China Lake Boulevard and turns on California Avenue, ending at Freedom Park. Leading the parade is Travis Combs’ Bagpiper Band from Bakersfield, followed by dignitaries: Grand Marshall Rear Admiral Keith “Brownie” Hash Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division commander, California State Senator Shannon Grove, California State Assemblyman Vince Fong, Ridgecrest Mayor Eric Bruen, Kern County Supervisor Phillip Peters, Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, and Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. Captain Jeremy Vaughan will be riding on a federal fire truck. After the dignitaries, the Burroughs High School Marching Band leads the flag-bearing marchers to Freedom Park.
The 1,000 flags will be planted in the park, where they will remain for a week. Then, a short program will be emceed by Stu Witt, retired Navy pilot and former Mojave Air & Space Port CEO. Rear Admiral Keith Hash will be the keynote speaker.
This is an opportunity to join your community in honoring and remembering those who lost their lives on 9/11 and our military and first responders who heroically ran towards danger to protect public safety.
Parade organizer Patricia Farris, Publisher of The News Review, speaks from her heart when she says, “The parade is particularly important for our children. They may not remember what was said, but they will remember how they felt when they heard the patriotic songs sung and played by the band. They will remember the sense of community they felt while carrying flags with their teachers and classmates, law enforcement, firemen, and Navy brass, with the military in dress uniform.
“They will be surrounded by hundreds from this community marching under the same banner. The banner represents our freedom and reminds us of how fortunate we are to live in this country. They will take pride in their community. They will remember this for a lifetime and become better citizens with this experience.
“Don’t forget to bring the children to the Candlelight Vigil that will be held on the evening of 9-11. They are too young to remember 9-11, but they will be impressed by the sacrifices made by our first responders. They will also enter into the memory of the lives of those who were lost on 9-11 as part of our history as they light the candles. Standing there holding lighted candles while taps are being played is a sobering experience.
“The Parade of 1,000 Flags sets this community apart. We are a community with a strong sense of mission. You will want to be a part of this event.”
Top: Kern County Firemen and Travis Combs’ Bagpiper Band take a few moments in reflection on the emotionally charged 9-11 Vigil ceremony on September 11, 2022. Right: Members of the Indian Wells Valley community show their patriotism as they march down China Lake Boulevard during last year’s Parade of 1,000 Flags.