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Coalition pulls off second Lee parade to honor veterans

Albany Herald - 11/16/2019

Nov. 16--LEESBURG -- A chilly, overcast day following on the heels of an all-day rain on Friday led some planned participants in Saturday's second Leesburg Veterans Day Parade to pull out -- many at the last minute, to the chagrin of parade organizers -- but the threat of bad weather did not keep citizens from grabbing strategic sites along Main Street for the parade that honors American war heroes.

"We were a little worried yesterday, kept checking online all day on the weather," American Legion Post 30 Commander Dan Brewer said Saturday morning minutes before the 21-unit parade started up in downtown Leesburg. "But there has been a great deal more interest in the parade this year (than last year's initial event honoring veterans). I think it's going to turn out fine (despite the late pull-outs)."

If last-minute defections had anyone hopping Saturday morning, it was parade organizer Denzil Harrell. Decked out in his dress blues, veteran Harrell had been "running around all morning like a chicken with his head cut off" before taking a breather to talk with a reporter.

"Everyone's scared of the weather," a harried Harrell said. "It started at about 6 a.m. today, people calling to cancel. But I think we're going to pull it off, and the people are going to enjoy it. Not too bad for a bunch of rank amateurs."

A large contingent from Camilla in the Mitchell County Middle School Young Marines got ready to march in the parade by listening to last-minute instructions from their drill instructor, who told the youngsters, "Let's let 'em know Mitchell County is here."

Paul Murray, who heads the multi-agency Southwest Georgia Veterans Coalition, was hyped up to see the members of the Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Band marching down the parade route.

"They're only doing three parades this year: Atlanta, Columbus and today our parade," Murray said. "I hope we can get them here every year. I put in the request to have the Fort Benning band here a year ago, right after we finished the first parade. It took me reaching out every month, and even then I didn't find out for sure they'd come here until a couple of months ago."

Parade organizers said they were also pleased to have members of the Albany Police Department's Special Operations Division leading the parade.

"APD Chief (Michael) Persley is a veteran, and he said he'd be honored to be a part of the parade," Brewer said. "If he doesn't have to deal with a serious crime, he'll be here himself to take part."

APD Sgt. Terry Brown and Cpl. Robert Beal, himself a veteran, were queued up and ready to start the parade on their motorcycles.

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