People of all ages showed support of U.S. military personnel by walking 3.2 miles through Glens Falls in the annual Christmas Eve Road March. Held to honor on-duty military personnel as well as veterans and deceased soldiers, this 10th anniversary Road March drew the largest turnout ever.
Ready to head out on the 10th annual Glens Falls Christmas Eve Road March, Emily Simmons’ cell phone rang and she took a call from her husband Robert Simmons, who is on duty from Afghanistan.
Smiling as she chatted on her phone early on Dec. 31, she told him about the crowd gathered at the Glens Falls Civic Center to march 3.2 miles through the city to pay tribute to U.S. soldiers as well as veterans.
Minutes later, she said her husband was happy to hear that 1,400 people had gathered at the Civic Center to show support for military personnel on duty, and she talked about how he’d left home for Afghanistan about two months ago.
“At first, it was hard without him,” said Emily, who is several months pregnant. “But I’ve learned to re-adjust to life — and I’m very proud of him.”
Simmons was surrounded by her family members, including her aunt Hope Rosati-Frettoloso, who won the Road March raffle and was rewarded with a GI Joe doll garbed in camouflage and holding a miniature semi-automatic rifle. Her good fortune was appropriate, considering she and her relatives were named the largest group represented, and recognized for donating the most items for care packages to be sent to soldiers.
Among those present for the march kick-off event at the Glens Falls Civic Center were leather-clad Patriot Guard Riders. They formed a ceremonial color guard.
Linda Nichols, an officer of the Patriot Guard and Director of the regional Help on the Homefront outreach program for veterans, said she was impressed with the turnout.
“It’s so good to see the community coming together like this and supporting the people on the front line,” she said.
Despite an ankle injury, state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) was among those walking. She said the march meant a lot to military personnel on duty, as well as the family members of either veterans or soldiers now serving.
“This is wonderful to remember those not home for the holidays,” she said. Little noted that this 10th anniversary of the Glens Falls Road March was particularly poignant for many, because Albany native Lt. Colonel Todd Clark, an Army lt. Colonel, had walked in the Glens Falls Road March in prior years, but was killed this June in Afghanistan.
“So many families here have relatives in the military or have friends in the service,” she said, noting that her son Captain David Little is a Navy pilot on active duty. “It’s good to remember those serving our country — they are truly in harm’s way.”
New Warren County Supervisor-at-large Rachel Seeber looked at the crowd gathered for the procession.
“I can’t imagine a better turnout,” she said. “It’s wonderful for all these people to be here for the military personnel now at work to preserve our freedom.”
Two of the youngest participating in the Road March were Landon and Connor Duffy of Argyle — 3 years old and 6 months old respectively. They were being pushed in a double stroller by their mother, Sarah Duffy of Argyle. They were in the procession to honor Duffy’s nephew, brother and father-in law, all either on active duty or retired from the military.
“This is our family tradition,” Duffy said. “We’re here to show support for our troops.”
Major Brian Rockwell of the Army National Guard looked over those gathered for the march.
“This support for those on duty and overseas is really great,” he said. It not only shows support for the troops, but their family members.”
Nearby, state Assemblyman Dan Stec talked with service personnel as well as greeting acquaintances.
“It’s nice to see so many pause in their celebration of Christmas Eve to remember and recognize the service and sacrifice of our soldiers,” he said. “So many of our friends and neighbors in the service can’t be home.”