ELKTON — He’s never been in a parade before, unless you count all the marching he did while serving six years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, so George Reynolds is eager to have the experience as the Grand Marshal of the Cecil County Christmas Parade.
On Dec. 7 at noon, the parade through downtown North East will be held to officially usher in the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring hundreds of marchers, floats, animals, bands and more, the parade will begin at Cecil Avenue and make the turn onto Main Street. With sidewalks on both sides there’s plenty of room for seating and restaurants along the route allow for outdoor dining while you watch.
“I’m going to enjoy it,” Reynolds, 97, said. “I feel real proud and real happy that they chose me.”
His Navy uniforms long gone, Reynolds will wear a brand new pea coat adorned with the many medals he collected during his service from 1941 to 1947.
“I did six years on account of my education,” Reynolds, from Elkton, said. He joined the Navy in July 1941 and was in engineering school in Dearborn, Mich., when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
“They brought us out and told us what happened,” he recalled of the Dec. 7 attack that propelled the United States into the war. “We threw our hats into the air and screamed ‘Turn us loose. We’ll kick the bastards’ butts in six months.’”
That fact that a World War II veteran is the grand marshal for a parade to be held Dec. 7 is not lost on Reynolds. Melissa Cook-McKenzie, North East town administrator, said the parade committee had the same thought after the North East VFW suggested Reynolds for the honor.
“Given that it’s Dec. 7, we felt it was appropriate,” Cook-McKenzie said.
He got the call while he was outside working in his yard. He told them he did not feel he could walk a parade route.
“They said ‘You aren’t going to walk. You are going to ride in a convertible,’” he said of the conversation. “I said, ‘Let me think about it.’ I kept working for about another hour.”
Then he called back and agreed to be the the grand marshal.
Reynolds said his grandchildren are changing work schedules to be able to attend.
“They want to see Pop-pop ride in a parade,” he said, clearly tickled.
Meanwhile he will be shopping for a clear umbrella. He saw one on TV recently and figured he might need one.
“I’m going to get a clear umbrella in case it rains,” he said.
Look for his happy salute in the parade.
“I am going to smile like a hound dog,” Reynolds said.