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Jonesborough Days 2015: Area seniors hit parade with special veterans’ tribute

Jonesborough’s  Senior Center members and staff took the 45th Annual Jonesborough Days parade to heart when they decided to create a float centered around the theme of “Stars and Stripes: Celebrating Old Glory.” 
With more than 1,000 members, Senior Center Director Mary Sanger knew this would be a great opportunity to showcase nearly 15 veterans on their parade float. The float also included four vocalists and five volunteers who walked alongside the float.
“We wanted to be a part of what is going on in town, and recognize our veteran members and their service to our country,” Sanger said.
Volunteers helped assemble and decorate the float, a process that took about a week, and even longer to plan. Folks involved with the assembly of the float included Jonesborough Senior Center Advisory Board Chairman John Moore and his wife, Debbie, Bob and Robin Beals and staff members Sanger and Kathy Crawford.
Singers on the float included Kelly Sams, choir director at David Crockett High School, Caleb Shaw, choir director at West View Elementary School, Ben Davenport, choir director at Grand View Elementary and Savannah Beals, Commercial Music Major at Belmont University in Nashville.
Walkers accompanying the float included Saxton Beals, Joe Allison, Connie Denniston, Ruth Powers, Lorene Sharpe, Susan Elwell and Beana Kear.
 When the Fourth of July came and it was time to march down Main Street for the parade, all the Jonesborough Senior Center group efforts paid off as they took home the Schubert Club award.
The Schubert Club Award is given to the float judged to be the best representation of the growth of music in the Town of Jonesborough. Judging factors included conformance to the parade theme, costume, design, music and creativity.
 “Our group had so much fun,” Sanger said. “The expression on the veterans’ faces as they waved to the crowd is something I will always remember. Many of them have mentioned how much they enjoyed being a part of it and really appreciated that we did the float for them. They also enjoyed getting to know the other veterans.”
Many folks recognized the float as a silence fell over the crowd and folks saluted and applauded the veterans as they passed by. 
“The float got a lot of support from the crowd as we rolled through town.  Many people stood up as we went by and saluted or removed their hats,” Sanger said. “It was very well received and our veterans felt appreciated. Our float included the anthem from each of the different branches of service, and I think this really helped with the overall theme.”
The veterans on the float included:
 • Terry Walden, 27 years of service, Navy veteran, Desert Storm
 • Carol Walden, 9 years of service, Navy veteran
 • Owen Colvin, 20 years of service, Army veteran
 • John Lilly, 20 years of service, Army veteran, Vietnam War
• Jerel Elwell, 6 years of service, Navy veteran, Vietnam War
• Bob Powers, 15 years of service, Army veteran
• Dolores Mielnicki, 2 years of service, Navy veteran, WWII
• Bill Penley, 2 years of service, Marine veteran 
• Earl Stepp, 20 years of service, Army veteran, Korean War
• Bob Deruvo, 4 years of service, Marine veteran
• Roland Croteau, 2 years of service, Army veteran
 • Joe Allison, 23 years of service, Navy veteran, Operation Noble Eagle & Enduring Freedom
• Gene Long, 6 years of service, Navy veteran, Vietnam War
• John Frederickson, 2 years of service, Army veteran, Vietnam War
Sanger and the staff of the Jonesborough Senior Center are already taking on new projects to include veteran programming into their schedule of events and activities, and plans are already underway for their participation in the annual Christmas parade in Jonesborough.
“We are looking for ways to involve the center with veteran groups such as Honor Flight in the future.
“There are so many veterans in the area and it is important to have programming specific to their needs and requests,” Sanger said.
 Any veterans interested in sharing their story can participate in a story collection and memory share at the Jonesborough Senior Center on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. The session will be conducted by McKinney Center Outreach Director Jules Corriere. This event will mark the first session of an ongoing outreach and story gathering program between the McKinney Center and the Jonesborough Senior Center. 
For information on this program, contact Jules Corriere at [email protected]
 For additional information on the Jonesborough Senior Center, visit or call 753-1075.