Color Guard Crisis Averted At Local Parade
PALO ALTO, CA – The 87th May Fete parade rolled thru downtown by way of University Avenue. It was an early start at 10AM for one of Northern California’s oldest and finest traditions.
Members from Squadron 10 gathered there following days of preparation along with many other school groups, floats and marching bands. Hundreds of spectators enjoyed the event as Civil Air Patrol’s proud color guard unit made its way at the very start. For those who don’t know, preparation and a stroke of luck saved the day. So what was all the drama 24 hours earlier?
According to CAP Senior Member Alexis Esguerra,” Lt. Jim Spears called and started off the conversation with a statement that just about made the floor drop out from under me.” He said, “A key color guard member is sick and can’t make it tomorrow.”
Without him, the unit was now one short.
An alternate for the team, was already substituting for another cadet, who could not attend either. CAP had just learned earlier from the event coordinator that Squadron 10’s members had been designated as the parade’s official color guard. Going into the parade without the right number of cadets heading the celebration wouldn’t look good and wasn’t ideal.
“AJ’s on top of it. He called cadet contacts at another unit and found someone to fill in,” Lt. Jim Spears commented. “Squadron 18’s unit the gold standard. If ever an outside alternate was needed for this situation, one from Hayward’s best is what we could hope for,” Spears added.
As the event unfolded the next day, the first person there was Squadron 10’s newest cadet, Jacob Burns. Cadets Concepcion, Kim and SM Marc Stephenson were present in as well. Also there was Squadron 18’s replacement, Cadet Giles. “Upon recognizing this cadet, I moved from relieved to ecstatic! She had participated at the Group 2 Competition back in February as a member of Hayward’s color guard unit; in short, we have a pro!” said Esguerra. Squadron 18’s color guard had, after all, won last year’s Wing Competition.
An impromptu practice instantly drew the attention of the spectators in the area, many of whom looked impressed with the professionalism and precision that Cadets Spears, Higgins, James and Giles exhibited. Lt. Jim Spears meanwhile carried out a detailed briefing with new members on what was expected of them.
“The parade started off early with a parade banner, the police escort, and Sparkles The Clown. Squadron 10 marched on as one group and led the rest of the crowd. The public was awed by the military bearing of our cadets in blue and flags flying high, then immediately set smiling by the more ‘friendly and approachable’ side of our cadets in their green BDUs,” said Esguerra.
The Henry Gunn High School Marching Band chose to play a classic song for the occasion -‘Louie Louie,’ which helped the cadets maintain their cadence. Major Alice Mansell surprised everyone all with a quick appearance. She had been watching the parade from the sidelines and popped in to congratulate all the cadets. A quick debriefing along with a picture taking session followed, after which the cadets were released to enjoy food, games and festivities for the rest of the day.
“After a close-call and perfect performance, they had at Palo Alto’s May Fete Parade, I think the kids earned it,” Esguerra added. Many thanks to all and to Cadet Giles!