Parades are as much a part of Memorial Day tradition in Carroll County as graveside and chapel services.
As usual, parades in Westminster, Taneytown and Union Bridge attracted hundreds of countians.
Like Monday's memorial services, this year's parades contained special meaning. Veterans from Operation Desert Storm joined other veterans in marching down main streets. Taneytown dedicated its parade asa "Thank you" to its sons and daughters who served in the Persian Gulf.
Unlike the solemnness of memorial services, parades offered residents an upbeat opportunity to demonstrate patriotism. And many did-- waving miniature American flags, yellow ribbons and singing patriotic songs.
WESTMINSTER -- As church bells rang in the hour, 4-year-old Beth Smaligo settled herself on a Main Street curb and yelled, "Parade. Parade. Parade."
Her mother, Mary Smaligo, and her brother, John, took seats next to Beth, who had to contain her enthusiasm for several minutes until the city's police, escorting the parade, reached the family's shaded vantage point.
Beth and her brother waved miniature American flags as the parade's leaders, Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown and City Council members, walked by the Hampstead family, which was seated across from the Westminster Fire Department.
About 1,000 people attended the city's 124th Memorial Day Parade, which began at Belle Grove Square and ended an hour and a few blocks later at Westminster Cemetery. There, Army Lt. Col. Joe Cinquino, professor of military science at Western Maryland College, gave theMemorial Day Address.
Harry Emigh Jr., a Westminster resident andArmy veteran of World War II and Korean War, served as parade marshal. Emigh has been active for 25 years with the Memorial Day Committee, which along with Westminster's American Legion Post 31 and other veterans organizations sponsors the parade.
"It's your typical all-American parade," said Smaligo, watching a caravan of military vehicles pass by. "There's hometown bands, military men and equipment and firemen.
"We haven't seen the firemen yet, though. It's been a nice parade."
John, 8, who observed last year's parade as well, was waiting for the firemen because they always toss out candy.
"That's his favorite part," his mother said.
John had some waiting to do.
Long before city fire trucks passed by, the Smaligos saw the Westminster Municipal Band, military trucks, soldiers and veterans -- including members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars -- Military Order and Purple Heart Combat Wounded Veterans and U.S. Army Reserve 195th Maintenance Co. of Westminster.
There were Gold Star Mothers; several teen-age pageant queens and Scouts, such as Grace Lutheran Church's CubScout Pack 393 and St. John's Church Pack 420.
In the meantime, John and Beth, like other children seated along the street, received miniature American flags, a "presidential ruler" and a small card containing the words of the pledge of allegiance.
TANEYTOWN -- The city's annual Memorial Day Parade, sponsored by American Legion Post 120, breezed along East Baltimore Street in 15 minutes.
"It's a nice parade," said Phyllis McMullen, who left a nearby air-conditioned used clothing boutique to see parade highlights. "The little majorettes looked so cute in their costumes.
"This is just an-all-aroundnice event."
About 250 people lined the main street to see this year's parade, which the American Legion dedicated as a "Thank you" tothe Taneytown men and women who served in Operation Desert Storm.
Veterans of other wars joined the parade as well.
Providing patriotic music were the Francis Scott Key High School Eagles Band, the Westminster Municipal Band and the William F. Myers & Sons Inc. Band ofWestminster.
The parade's entries included the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Department, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr., the City Council and members of the city pool swimming club.
The parade ended at Taneytown Memorial Park, where Lt. Col. Bruce Ewing, an Air Force chaplain, gave the Memorial Day address, read a poem entitled "No Greater Love" and sang "God Bless the U.S.A," a Lee Greenwood song that became popular among U.S. troops stationed in thegulf.
UNION BRIDGE -- Clouds gathered and light rain startedfalling minutes before the town's Memorial Day parade was scheduled to begin Monday evening, prompting nervous glances skyward from many of the several hundred people who had lined Broadway.
But the weather didn't worry town resident Helen Garber.
"It won't stop 'em today," she said.
Garber should know.
She and her husband, Jim, have watched more than 30 Union Bridge Memorial Day parades roll past their Broadway home.
"There have been years when the rain broke the parade up," Garber said.
Sure enough, the rain halted and the parade -- replete with marching bands, historic cars and dignitaries --proceeded without a hitch. In fact, the sun began to show again about halfway through the 30-minute event.
The town's parade serves asthe formal kick-off for the Union Bridge Fire Co.'s annual carnival,which began Monday night and runs through this weekend.