Leading the Cambridge Snowflake Parade this year as the Color Guard are five members of the youth group the Polaris Battalion Navy Sea Cadets.
The 16th Annual Lighted Snowflake Parade glides into Cambridge on Saturday, Nov. 17, beginning at 6 p.m.
The parade will start at Fern and 2nd streets and head east on 2nd to Main Street downtown. It will then turn south at the edge of the First Baptist Church campus. No parking will be allowed in or around the First Baptist Church parking lot, as that will be the tear down area for floats.
This year’s parade is packed to the brim with more than 50 out-of-town royalty entries and 20 local businesses and organizations, and all will be beautifully lit with a theme celebrating the upcoming holidays or snowflake season. The parade should last about one hour.
Many of the out-of-town festivals’ ambassadors will be arriving early for an afternoon reception and social, and then heading to local senior homes to visit and share the spirit of the “Season of Giving.”
A Community Chili Feed will be held in conjunction with the parade from 4 to 8 p.m. in the basement of the Cambridge American Legion, featuring Captain Ken’s chili and Herman’s Bakery French bread, for just $3 a bowl. The chili feed helps defray the costs of putting on the event.
About the Polaris Battalion Navy Sea Cadets
Polaris Battalion, the Color Guard for this year’s parade, has been in Cambridge since February 2011, and they’re always looking for new recruits. Open to boys and girls ages 11 to 17, the cadets—or leaguers for those age 11 to 13—drill once a month in Cambridge, learning leadership, honor, commitment and respect.
“I think it’s quite an honor for them to even be asked to be part of the Color Guard,” said Dawn Van Hees, whose 16-year-old son Cory is a cadet.
New recruits attend a two-week boot camp in the summer, where they’re taught how to take care of uniforms, military customs and courtesies and more.
As a military program, the kids do the same kind of training military enlistees do, but their mission is different, said Leon Berg, Polaris Battalion’s Commanding Officer.
“We teach these kids honor, commitment, self-respect,” he explained. “We give them an idea of what the military life is like so they can make a decision—if military is what they want to do, they will have an idea of what they’ll be getting into once they enlist.”
During boot camp, recruits will learn how to work with others. Once they’ve graduated, they can go on to other summer training all over the country. The cadets can choose whichever training fits their interests, from field training, heavy equipment training, medical training, music school, culinary, aviation, officer training and more.
Cadets are encouraged to attend one training each summer, and some find time to do two or three. They usually run 10 to 14 days, and depending on where it’s located, the cadets will sleep at a base in the barracks, or out on the field in tents.
This past summer, two cadets attended marksmanship training and one attended a Homeland Security training.
The group meets once a month and drills for full eight-hour days on a Saturday and Sunday.
Drills can vary, but the unit does field operations and maneuvers, and they also have physical training, practice Color Guard routines and work with drill rifles to practice rifle routines. They’re also constantly refreshing their memories on uniform upkeep, as well as military customs and courtesies.
Van Hees said the Navy Sea Cadets are offered unique opportunities throughout the year. Some of them attended a scuba diving certification program, they were the Color Guard at the Princeton Speedway, they helped out at the Patriot Ride and much more.
All of the cadets have a different reason for joining the program. Some are into field operations, where they go out into the woods doing maneuvers, while some are technical and into computers and sonar.
If a cadet finishes boot camp, achieves the rank of E3, and then enlists in the Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard, they’ll get a pay grade raise, but cadets are not required to enlist.
The Sea Cadets is funded by a first-year registration fee and a yearly renewal fee, and the Polaris Battalion is always looking for new fundraising ideas or donations. This year, the leaders took part in the Polar Plunge on Forest Lake after the cadets set and exceeded their fundraising goal.
For more information on the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, visit www.seacadets.org. To contact Polaris Battalion, search for them on Facebook or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]