There is no such thing as a routine parade in Morris Plains.
Two years ago, a bear dashed through the borough as the Memorial Day Parade was winding down.
Last year, a pair of Clydesdales ran amok behind the VFW hall, and a low-flying Coast Guard chopper knocked branches off trees with its rotor wash.
Undaunted, organizers are planning another fly-over for Saturday’s parade. This time, it’s two fighter jets.
“They’ll be pretty high. They shouldn’t bother anybody on the ground,” deadpanned former Councilman Steve Welsh.
A pair of F-16C Fighting Falcons from the Air National Guard 177th Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township are scheduled to perform a tight formation flyover of the parade at 10:45 A.M.
Nicknamed the “Jersey Devils,” this fighter wing has flown protective patrols over New York and Washington since Sept. 11, 2001.
Steve will be right in the thick of things Saturday– he is a parade Grand Marshal, along with his former council colleagues, Don Underhill and Ralph Rotando. Combined, they logged more than 75 years of service in the borough. They survived a lot of parades!
“I’m really embarrassed being honored as a former councilman. That’s not why I served,” said Steve, who was closing in on three decades when his new job as Mine Hill administrator required him to step down. “But the embarrassment is lessened by having Don and Ralph with me.”
Saturday’s Memorial parade actually is the borough’s 24th. It starts at 9 a.m. with ceremonies at Roberts Garden, on the corner of Mountain Way and Glenbrook Road. Vietnam veteran Art Grant will address the crowd; VFW Post 3401 will conduct the service.
The parade follows at 9:30. In addition to 15 bands, animal acts, antique cars, and church and civic groups, some colorful celebrities are scheduled to appear, starting with “Sparkee,” mascot of the minor league Somerset Patriots.
Two former NFL stars–Bart Oates of Giants fame, and Al Singleton, a Super Bowl winner with the Cowboys who owns a dry cleaning business in Morris Plains–are part of the lineup. Al plans to sign autographs at the post-parade cookout at the VFW Post on Route 53.
And then there is Emma Hendrickson, who competes in seniors bowling tournaments at age 101.
The parade runs south on Mountain Way to Rosedale Avenue, east to Speedwell and north to the VFW post on Route 53. The VFW is providing free food and drinks and the parade committee is supplying kids entertainment.
So will there be any…surprises this year?
“No promises,” Steve said. “Come and see how it plays out.”
IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: Check www.morrisplainsboro.org for a message before 6:30 a.m., or call 973-538-8385, for status of parade. There is no makeup date.