McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local Sports

May 3, 2014

McAlester's Armed Forces Day parade and Fly-In bring the crowds

McALESTER — Droves of spectators gathered Saturday to watch the McAlester Armed Forces Day Parade and Fly-in at the McAlester Regional Airport.

The parade and Fly-in are part of McAlester’s annual celebration of Armed Forces Day.

This year, Grand Marshal Commander Pete Nilsen led the parade which included military vehicles, sheriff, police and firefighter vehicles, the Shriners, McAlester High School Marching Band, local custom cars and the Girl Scouts.

Nilsen is a McAlester native who enlisted in the Navy and became assistant chief of staff at the Navy Missile and Defense Command.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said Nilsen after the parade. “I used to come to this every year when I was a boy.”

The Girl Scouts also participated in the parade and stopped to sing “God Bless America” in front of the grandstand as Nilsen and others saluted.

Adults and children gathered along the parade route and cheered as fire trucks and police cars sounded their sirens. Cecilia McMahon watched from her boutique on Choctaw Avenue.

“This is really nice,” McMahon said. “The people of McAlester should be proud to have this in our community; it’s what our country needs.”

J.D. Case, 78, of McAlester, stood on the corner of Choctaw Avenue and Second Street.

“I been coming every year since this started,” Case said. “I’m waiting to see my son; he’s going to be driving a dune buggy in the parade.”

After the parade, the next event was the fly-in at the airport.

Hundreds gathered for free hot dogs and drinks under blue skies to watch as Mel Tilly parachuted from a World War II aircraft.

Tilly waved a giant flag as he dropped slowly to the ground while Hunter Wolf, 18, sang the National Anthem over intercom.

Participants in the fly-in included 15 aircraft and two parachute teams — the Cherokee Skydivers and World War II Airborne Demonstration Team — according to Jeff Wolf, an  AFD committee member in charge of the fly-in.

“Everything is just going great,” Jeff Wolf said during the event.

“Everyone is have a great time and it’s all going better than we hoped.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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