ORANGE, NJ — Orange residents came out in force to join Mayor Dwayne Warren and the City Council in honoring veterans at the Veterans Day Parade, which began at Orange Military Park and concluded at the Orange Elks Lodge on Sunday, Nov. 10.
In addition to saluting veterans, Orange drew special attention to honoring all female veterans in Essex County, as the JROTC of Irvington High School and Orange High School cheerleaders, football players, band and dancers entertained the crowd.
With a mic in one hand, the mayor emceed the event, interviewing residents, council members, veterans and parade performers.
“Today is Veterans Day in the city of Orange,” Warren said at the event. “The band is out playing, the cheerleaders are here, veterans are up and down, motorcycle clubs are here. Police, fire, community groups — they’re all here because they realize our freedom is tied to the work of the veterans across this nation and certainly here in the city of Orange.”
“This event exceeded my expectations, because I wanted veterans to come out and feel the love,” the mayor continued. “Certainly, it was shown today. I’ve interviewed veterans and it’ll be on our TV show. They’ve seen what’s happening here and they feel the love.”
“I’m celebrating America and celebrating our veterans,” Councilwoman Tency Eason told the Record-Transcript at the event. “Highlighting the women that were in the armed forces and making sure that we say thank you and that we appreciate you and we love you for all that you do and your commitment to keeping Americans safe.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten agreed.
“We are celebrating Veterans Day here in the city of Orange township,” Wooten said at the event. “What’s going to happen will be the raising of the American flag, which is great. We have the participants of the Fire Department, the Police Department, everybody in the city. We have a dance going on right now by the Ecuadorian performers. It’s just a day where we bring everyone together in the city of Orange.”
“This is our annual Veterans Day Parade that my department kicks off every year for the last 15 years. I coordinated the whole parade. Some of my assistants and I, we do this every year. We get the bands, the dancers and the veterans,” Orange Cultural Affairs Coordinator Campanella Godfrey said at the event.
Commander Cheryl ‘Kit’ Turner,” the founder and chief executive officer of New Hope Village 4 Veterans, and a past state vice commander for the American Legion, was honored at the celebration as a pillar for female veterans in Essex County.
“I’m here because I’m the grand marshal celebrating Veterans Day,” Turner told the Record-Transcript at the event. “This event turned out great. I have to honor my family. There’s 114, and I’m the only girl that has served.”
“I feel very good for all of the veterans that went out and fought for us and put their lives on the line for us and our freedom,” Godfrey said. “Also, I feel good when the veterans talk to Ms. Turner, because of her being the founder of New Hope Village 4 Veterans… They provide shelter, food and help with their loans and the things that they should be receiving.”
Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake grew up with her father who served in the military, and said it was important for her to attend the parade.
“I’m here to make sure that we pay homage to our vets and celebrate them, because they really truly, truly deserve to be celebrated,” Timberlake said. “They deserve to be celebrated, because they put their lives on the line for our freedom and the least we can do is celebrate them on days like this, but everyday as well. I’m here to have a great time and to make some veterans smile, so that they know that they are appreciated and never taken for granted.”
After the national anthem and the flag-raising portion of the celebration concluded, the festivities were taken inside. Dena Madden, a recreation aide and Orange’s events coordinator, helped serve food to guests inside of Orange Elks Lodge.
“We want our veterans to feel so special,” Madden said at the event. “They did a phenomenal job, saving all of our lives, and we just wanted to honor them, not just today but every day.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman.