Onlookers lined Main Street in Stamford on Friday buzzing with excitement as they waited for Stamford's 46th annual Flag Day Parade to begin.
"I'm waiting for Hobart," said Samantha Prehna, who lives in Hobart and also came out to the parade to support a family friend who's in the Jefferson Central School marching band.
More than 20 local fire departments made their way down the street, many followed by the school marching bands that matched their region. Stamford, Roxbury, Hobart, Davenport, Margaretville, South Kortright, East Meredith and Ashland were some of the fire departments that made an appearance at the parade. Some threw candy and others smiled, waved or called out to their friends and family in the crowd.
Connor Hill, 13, of Margaretville, said he goes to the parade every year with his family. His favorite part of the parade, he said, was seeing the community come together.
"I like how everyone comes together to watch a bunch of different talents and celebrate," he said.
Stamford's Flag Day Parade is open for anyone to participate in and no one has to register beforehand, said Bill Sharick, fire commissioner for the Stamford Fire Department, who's attended the parade since 1985. He was the "parade starter" this year; it was his job to get the parade started on time and to make sure every unit went in the right order, he said.
The Stamford Fire Department has hosted and sponsored Stamford Flag Day since 2012, said Joe Hornbeck, second assistant chief with the Stamford Fire Department.
"I think it's important that people reflect on being American," Sharick said. "We've got it pretty lucky. It brings out people and community spirit."
The parade was started by Dick Little, superintendent of Stamford Central School and James Fuller, music director at Stamford Central School, said Hornbeck. The two came up with the idea because the Memorial Day Parade that year had been rained out.
Ellen Kennedy, secretary at the Stamford Fire Department, said the parade easily had 1,000 attendees. The fire department uses social media and local news to get the word out. Despite the parade being a free-for-all event with no registration required, getting everyone lined up and ready usually goes off without a hitch, she said, because many people have done this before.
"It's chaos," she said. "A little bit organized, but chaos."
The Stamford Fire Department will be celebrating its 150th anniversary around the time of next year's flag day parade, in June 2020, said Kennedy.
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.