Smiles and patriotism abound at Flag Day parade

Young and old came together to celebrate America and honor our nation’s flag during the annual Flag Day Parade, held Friday afternoon. The popular event had hundreds of participants, including local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and veteran and community organizations.

Williamsport’s own “Flag Man,” Anthony DiSalvo, once again led the parade. DiSalvo has organized the event for the last 30 years and watched it grow from a simple idea to a beloved family-friendly event. He believes that it is important to teach a younger generation to love and respect the flag.

“I like to see all the kids come out here. We need to make sure that this tradition continues on, it’s good for the community to come together like this and take some time to remember our responsibilities as Americans,” DiSalvo said.

Twins Autumn and Haley Counsil, 7, said that they look forward to the parade each summer – and the ice cream sandwiches served at the end.

Their mother, Carol Counsil, explained that her girls have been participating in the march since they were only a year old. This year, the family brought a wagon to pull in the parade, which was elaborately decorated with flags, streamers and an eagle all hand-crafted by Carol herself.

“We have been coming to this event for the last six years. I really wanted to pull out all the stops this year,” Carol said of her creation.

The parade, which began on Hepburn Street, wound its way down to the Pennsylvania College of Technology, where a brief ceremony was held at the base of the flag pole. There, area residents joined in with people across America to participate in a national recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, held at 7 p.m.

The Repasz Band performed a selection of patriotic numbers, including a dramatic piece entitled, “Each Time You Tell Their Story” in memory of the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces.

Bill Carlucci, Boy Scouts of America Susquehanna Council president, was this year’s master of ceremonies. He took a moment to recognize DiSalvo’s hard work and dedication to the parade.

“This man has spent virtually his entire adult life reminding us of our duty to God and country,” Miller said, before surprising DiSalvo with a trophy.

State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, also surprised a group who has been extremely dedicated to maintaining the flag which flies on campus. He awarded a citation from the House of Representatives to Little Treasures preschool in South Williamsport. Since 2011, the students at Little Treasures have collected their spare change to donate to the flag’s maintenance fund. To date they have donated about $1,200.

Seven active members of the armed forces demonstrated the proper way to fold a flag, while Carlucci explained to the crowd the meaning behind each of the thirteen folds.

While this will not be his final march, DiSalvo admitted he hopes to find people willing to step forward and help him organize next year’s parade.

“I’ll still be doing this, but I need to find some volunteers next year to help out,” Disalvo said.

“If the Boy Scouts could give me 10 people, the city could give me 10 people, and the county could give me 10 people it would be a big help for me,” he added.