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Norfolk NATO Fest Parade of Nations kicks off in downtown Norfolk

Parade floats and marching bands took over Granby Street.

NORFOLK, Va. — Saturday morning’s weather was perfect for the 69th annual Norfolk NATO festival Parade of Nations. 

It was a welcome sight for downtown Norfolk: marching bands, parade floats and a cheering crowd.  

It’s the longest continuously running parade in Hampton Roads, and the only parade in the United States that honors NATO.

Parade-goer Pauline Graehawick said her favorite part of the festivities was "seeing all the different nations and the beauty of people getting together.” 

People in the crowd waved flags and cheered – as parade floats, marching bands, musicians and dancers from all NATO countries marched down Granby Street.   

“It’s just a beautiful day," Sue Classick said. "We’ve always enjoyed coming down here to it. I love a parade!” 

People from all over the United States and the world showed up for the big event that celebrates the relationship between NATO and Hampton Roads.

“Came from Greenville, South Carolina," Debbie Caine said. "First time!” 

People in the parade and people on the sidelines dressed up for the occasion. 

Cathy Sanchez wore an American flag inspired outfit.

“We just want to show our national pride and our patriotism," Sanchez said.

Sarah Ezell was decked out in all orange.

“I work on base with the NATO people and I’m representing the Netherlands," Ezell said. "My boyfriend’s from the Netherlands.” 

Each NATO country had its own colorful parade float, and local and visiting high bands performed alongside U.S. and international military bands.

This year’s theme was a Show of Unity.  

“Our sister’s in the parade. She goes to Norview High School," Renard Mason said. "It’s pretty good! It’s good for us to actually get a chance to see her, this is our first time seeing her play. So it’s awesome.”

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