BRINNON — Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole and Brinnon Citizen of the Year Beverly Clark led the way during the Loyalty Day Parade in Brinnon.
With big smiles and hundreds of small American flags, participants marched away from the Brinnon Booster Club and made two right-hand turns to get to Brinnon Lane, a 5 1/2-block walk that meant the world to the Veterans of Foreign Wars who hosted the event on Friday.
Students from both Brinnon and Quilcene schools, mostly elementary age, waved to onlookers along the parade route, although most of the approximately 200 people participated in the march.
“It means a lot to our VFW guys to get to see how it impacts the kids,” said Ron Hough, the commander of VFW Post 10706 in Brinnon.
Hough, named the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his work as a corrections officer at Jefferson County Jail, moved to the area with his wife, Amanda, three years ago.
Originally from Michigan and once stationed with the U.S. Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Hough served a 12-month deployment in Afghanistan. Friday was his second Loyalty Day Parade in the town where he and his family found affordable housing.
The Loyalty Day Parade featured several organizations, including the Dosey Dux, which supports Brinnon Schools students with Christmas wishes and scholarships, the Jefferson County Library, Rhody Fest royalty and the Brinnon Fire Department.
Jefferson County Assessor Jeff Chapman, county Treasurer Stacie Prada, county clerk Ruth Gordon and county commissioners Greg Brotherton and David Sullivan also marched in the parade.
The entertainment duo Kendra and Jim led a singing of “God Bless America,” and students from Brinnon Schools honored veterans with “Count on Me.”
Ernie Muir, a lifetime member of the Brinnon VFW Post who served in the Army in Vietnam in 1967-68, said the event is mostly for the kids.
“That’s why each and every one of them gets a flag,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be today, but some day down the line they will remember this.”
The post recently was renamed for Kenneth Gaul, a 96-year-old man who fought in World War II, and has belonged to the VFW organization for 73 years, Muir said.
Muir, originally from St. Helens, Ore., once had a 37-foot Tollycraft he sailed up the West Coast to Pleasant Harbor. The second time he did it — about 20 years ago — he decided he wanted to retire in the area.
“Brinnon is a super community,” he said. “Everybody looks out for everybody else, and everybody volunteers for something around them.”
The Loyalty Day Parade continues a community custom that started in 1921 and became a permanent addition to the Brinnon calendar in 1958, Muir has said.
Once Friday’s program wrapped up, each of the students was treated to an ice cream sandwich, and other participants retreated to the Brinnon Booster Club for a potluck lunch.
“It’s good for the kids to get to know some of the local veterans they see around,” Hough said. “It gives them a little understanding of freedom.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].