Salute to Veterans welcomes back fireworks
Estimated 10K watch Sunday show
— The Cecil County Salute to Veterans brought fireworks back to its annual patriotic tribute Sunday, much to the delight of nearly 10,000 spectators.
This decision was made after a laser show replaced the traditional fireworks last year, leaving some spectators yearning for the crackle, pop and boom over the Northeast River.
“The fireworks return seems to have been a hit,” said Eugene Daley, 2016 chairman of Cecil County Salute to Veterans. “The crowd was at least double from last year.”
Daley added that one town employee estimated over 10,000 people attended Sunday night under nearly perfect weather conditions.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “The crowd was wellbehaved and everyone I talked with was enjoying the evening.”
The committee will spend the next few weeks assessing the event and looking for ways to improve it next year, Daley said. A few unanticipated, last-minute glitches happened, he added, but overall the event went smoothly.
North East Community Park and its Gilbert Lighthouse Pavilion provided the setting for the patriotic event that began at 5 p.m. and ended at about 10 p.m.
Veterans were again the focal point of the event, which included a growing display of flags provided by the Rotary Club of North East that greeted visitors as they entered the park, veteran operated or benefitted food vendors, patriotic music, a flag raising ceremony and the participation of six local veterans from the 29th Division that landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy during World War II.
This year, Col. Kenneth A. Lenig, military deputy and chief of staff for the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity at Aberdeen Proving Ground, spoke to the crowd about patriotism and military service. Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Henry Passi served as emcee and County Council Vice President Alan McCarthy presented Daley with a proclamation from the county in recognition
of this year’s event, which focused on highlighted the veterans from the Vietnam War.
Boy Scouts handed out special gifts to all Vietnam veterans attending the ceremony on Sunday night.
A collection of high school bands from North East, Elkton and Bohemia Manor high schools provided the patriotic music this year.
“I really liked them and hope they can return again next year,” Daley said.
Under the leadership of fundraising chairman Brian DeMaris, the Cecil County Salute to Veterans committee raised about $42,000 this year, leaving enough leftover to have some seed money to begin planning for next year’s event, Daley said.
Cecil County VFW Memorial Post No. 6027 Commander Stanley Bensley presented a $10,500 check to the Cecil College Foundation to endow future scholarships for veterans and their families during the ceremony Sunday. He also donated two bicycles to Cecil County Director of Emergency Services Richard Brooks for the EMS bike team.
North East Mayor Robert McKnight offers an opening prayer prior to the flag raising ceremony.
Fireworks explode over the Northeast River during the Salute to Cecil County Veterans Sunday.