The Freedom Parade on Saturday, May 28 is always one of the highlights of Celebrate Commemorate. And this year’s parade promises to be bigger and better than ever. As always, the parade will step off at 11 a.m. for the half-mile march down Main Street. Come early to be sure to find a space along the curb or get a group together and join the line of march.

Co-chairs Kaaren Gerlach and Doris Wolf have announced that this will be their last effort. ”Since we are retiring after 17 years, and Waterloo is commemorating the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, we wanted to make this year especially memorable, “ said Wolf.

The parade will have more bands, more military groups, more animals and more fire departments than ever before, added Gerlach.

There will be six divisions, with more than 16 fire departments making up a new division. This year’s parade will be led by a color guard of veterans representing all the branches of the US military, graduates iof the Waterloo High School class of 1966. The color guard is under the direction of Stan Grela.

The parade honors the Sampson WWII Navy Vets color guard and all WWII vets, who will ride on a float constructed by the Romulus Scouts under the leadership of Becky Jessup. The float will be accompanied by the US Navy National Guard and escorted by more than 100 members of the International Drum Corps Champion Mighty St. Joe’s Drum and Bugle Corps from Batavia.

Other outstanding musical groups featured in the parade will be Waterloo High School Marching Band, Albion High School Band, Excelsior Cornet Band, Towpath Volunteers of Palmyra-Macedon, Finger Lakes Pipes and Drums, Downbeat Percussion, the 319 Army Band of New York and the ever-popular Hit Men. Additional high school bands also may join the parade.

What would a parade be without animals? Waterloo’s parade will have the war dogs from Auburn, Brody’s Boot Camp dog drill team, Muranda Cheese Farm marching Holstein cow, Meadville Farm goat corps, adoptable pets from Beverly Animal Shelter, 4-H obedience dogs and Sal, the Cay-Sen Trail (fiberglass) mule.

Favorite groups will of course return, including the wounded warriors from the VA hospital in Canandaigua accompanied by the Patriot Guard and the American Legion Riders, the Freedom Village contingent including the Iwo Jima float, the “parade within a parade” of American Revolution and Civil War reenactors, and Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt. The Skoi Yase school children and Rising Star Twirling Corps are always a delight. This year the Boy Scouts from the Finger Lakes will carry the 50 state flags from the VFW.

Businesses and community organizations will be represented including floats by many of the village’s churches, Fuzzy Guppies, Red Cross Donut Dollies, Seneca Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Adult Day Health program, Seneca ARC, the LunaChicks Roller Derby team, the TRAC Team with a float with 150 American Flags in honor of the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day, the Suffragists from Peterboro and the 50th reunion WHS Class of 1966. Veterans groups will include the Vietnam Veterans, Army National Guard, Honor Flight, Walter Young’s WWII Jeep, and WWII veteran Irv Buchholz and his musical car. Vehicles will include tractors, cars, Woodies and fire engines.

Many other groups and some surprises will delight parade goers. “As we always say, everyone is welcome!” said Wolf