- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2001

A flag-waving crowd gave veterans of all ages a grand reception as the fighting men and women marched through the streets of Falls Church, Va., yesterday.
Brass bands belted out military standards, and residents cheered members of the Air Force Color Guard, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the local American Legion post, some wearing just their caps, others their entire uniforms.
Falls Church takes Memorial Day seriously, and this year an estimated 15,000 local and not-so-local participants attended the days events, including a ceremony presided over by Mayor Dan Gardner at the citys Veterans Memorial.
"I love it. I love it. But were here to remember that freedom is not free," said Tom Pocock, 64, a retired Navy chaplain and Vietnam War veteran. "You go overseas and come back, and youre glad youre in America."
It was a day full of funnel cakes, dogs in silly costumes and firetrucks. Some parade participants walked around in kilts, and children with ice cream cones danced to rock music in front of the main stage.
"You cant beat a parade," said Steve Balog, 44, who arrived two hours early to secure a good spot along the route on Park Avenue. "This is Americana. It sounds kind of corny, but it is."
Besides, Mr. Balog said, he couldnt miss watching the Shriners race up and down the street in their miniature cars.
Dawn Forshee, 34, and her family were on a hunt for barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers. Mrs. Forshee, a Baltimore resident formerly of Rochester, N.Y., marveled at the warm weather.
"You had to wear your winter coat to the Memorial Day parades in upstate New York," she said.
After a soggy Washington weekend — and a cooler than normal May — the local weather cooperated in time for yesterdays festivities.
Dot Williams, 65, has been coming out to the parade for "45 to 50 years," she said.
"Every year, Im right here," she said, noting that she has come in the past with her children, grandchildren, and this year, her great-grandchildren.
"Its happy. Everybodys happy walking around here — well, except for that little boy," she said, pointing out a child throwing a fit.
One of the highlights of the day was the pet and owner costume contest.
One boy dressed himself and his dog like Superman. Two little girls in ballerina attire had a tiny tutu on their pooch.
Bonnie Warnock, 53, dressed her Chihuahua, named Taco, like Uncle Sam. He even carried a little American flag in his mouth.
"Bell [Miss Warnocks other dog] didnt come because its too hard to hold onto two at once," she said.
A wagon full of guinea pigs dressed as cowboys won the prize for smallest pet. A 140-pound Anatolian shepherd named Zeus won for largest pet.

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