BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
PUNGO — Nelson Eskey didn’t get a clear view of the parade below when he flew a World War II military aircraft above Princess Anne Road during the 35th Annual Pungo Strawberry Festival Parade on Saturday, May 26.
Still, Eskey felt a surge of enthusiasm flying the Boeing-Stearman PT-17.
“Flying is always a high,” said Eskey, “especially when you’re flying an older airplane.
Eskey, a volunteer at the Military Aviation Museum, flew the trainer aircraft to kick off the parade while his colleagues from the museum drove a double decker bus and a military motorcycle in the parade.
Mike Potter, former museum director and current volunteer, drove a World War II sidecar motorcycle similar to the one captured by his father, Marvin Potter, in Italy.
Eskey’s flight was one new addition to this year’s parade, while the Virginia Beach SPCA Junior Volunteers, who walked in the parade, were another.
“We’re always trying to get out to events and to alert people to the volunteer opportunities at the SPCA,” said Mike Lawson, Communications and Marketing Manager at the SPCA.
The parade, which lasted about an hour and extended from the intersection of Princess Anne and Indian River Roads to North Muddy Creek Road, included 53 units, according to parade co-chairperson Tim Lee.
The participants included military units from Naval Air Station Oceana and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, as well as marching bands and floats from area schools.
Members of local churches, community groups, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops also participated in the parade.
Dancers from Inspiration Academy as well as from the Parkway Elementary School danced their way down the hot parade route while some members of Little Piney Grove Baptist Church also danced to the gospel music that the church was playing.
Members of the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society drove vintage fire trucks bearing the town name “Pungo, Virginia,” and the parade also included antique cars.
Many of the parade participants return each year, said Robin Lee, who is parade co-chairperson with her husband, Tim Lee.
“We’d love to have more of the Virginia Beach schools represented,” Robin Lee said.
Creeds Elementary School won the award of best overall float, while Inspiration Academy was recognized as having the best festival-themed float.
Kellam High School took the honors for best overall marching band. First Colonial High School was recognized as the best high school band, and Princess Anne Middle School was recognized as best middle school band.
Other parade winners included the Old Dominion Historical Fire Society for best motorized unit, the Parkway Elementary School Step Team for best miscellaneous marching unit and Coastal Composite for best military unit.
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