Thousands typically join to honor & aid deployed troops
By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 0900 hours — that’s 9 a.m., civilians — SFC Arthur Coon’s 16th annual Christmas Eve Road March steps off from the Cool Insuring Arena in downtown Glens Falls.
The four-mile march was founded by Retired Sgt. Coon to honor and assist American soldiers serving away from home at Christmastime.
As many as 2,000 people typically participate. In year one, there were “about 10 of us,” Sgt. Coon told The Chronicle last year on the event’s 15th anniversary. When the march began in 2004, local National Guard solders were still deployed in Iraq.
It is free and “open to absolutely everyone,” Sgt. Coon writes. “Soldiers, veterans, civilians, kids, dogs, and even strollers!”
Military members are invited to dress in uniform. All participants are invited to wear backpacks carrying personal supplies to donate to deployed soldiers.
Prizes will be awarded for the largest military group marching, largest civilian group, heaviest male backpack and heaviest female backpack.
Spectators are also welcome along the route. It proceeds up Glen Street, east on Garrison Road, and then down Bay Street back to the arena.
Those who cannot walk may ride the Warren County veterans bus, remain at the arena, or choose a place along the route to cheer on those who are walking — “but you can’t do it from home,” Sgt. Coon urges.
The retired National Guard recruiter writes, “I may not know many of the soldiers who are serving far from home, but I never want them to think that we were celebrating without thinking of them and their service I want those soldiers to see what we have done and to say how HOOAH! we are for getting out of our homes instead of staying in our jammies.”
“Road marches aren’t supposed to be easy,” he wrote last year. “They’re hard and unpleasant and you suffer just a little…So too do the soldiers suffer who are deployed, be it family separation, hard duty in terrible weather, long hours, danger, etc.”
Sgt. Coon adds these tips and notes (plus a few more) on the Facebook page.
- “A Santa hat is optional, but you should stick your head out the door that morning and dress appropriately. Think proper footwear, gloves, etc.”
- ‘We walk on the sidewalks most of the way,’ avoiding Christmas traffic.
- The road march is free, “but we do sell tee shirts, and the money goes to send care packages!” This year they have a new design from Oneon1design.
- Bring an American flag to carry or “stick it in your backpack” if you wear one.
- Free bottled water is provided every year by the Association of the United States Army.
- Free coffee is provided by VFW Post 2475 in Glens Falls.
- Marchers are invited to bring baked goods to share. “I am partial to vanilla sugar cookies myself, but please don’t think you need to just bring those….wink, wink…,” Sgt. Coon quips.
- Info: Email Sgt. Coon or his wife and co-organizer Julie at email@example.com, call 378-9518, or find details on Facebook. Search for SFC Coon’s Christmas Eve Road March.
Sgt. Coon ends, as always: “HOOAH!”
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