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Posts Tagged ‘Gator Bowl’

It’s 9:30am on December 31, 2013 and Squad 7 members are gathering in the parking lot to get prepared for the 1 mile troop in the Gator Bowl Parade at downtown Jacksonville, Fl.

The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze coming off the St Johns river that put a chill in the air. As the first few members showed up, we setup tables and started laying out the food and drinks for everybody as the got here. This was a great idea to kind of tail gate before the troop. it was a hit and everybody pitched in with everything needed to make for a successful tailgate party.

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There was excitement in the air as more and more members showed up. We had plenty of time to visit and get to know each other better, tell stories of past troops or talk about future troops and why we all love to part of the 501st and Squad 7. The food was great and the company was better, now we start getting ready for the troop.

We had a new addition to Squad 7, It was a M35 Deuce, It drove up to our little party and boy was it bad to the bone. its big, mean sounding and sporting the Imperial Cog on both sides. It was some kind of cool.

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Standing on the street waiting for the line to move, the troopers were ready to head down the one mile journey to wave and bring smiles to the crowed as we passed them by.  It was great to see all the families out there even with the cool weather and being in the middle of the week. We trooped on and did what we do and did it so good.

As we came to the parade end we all loaded up int the Deuce and trust me as a Stormtrooper that was a trick as the Deuce stands so high of the ground that we needed ladders to climb up. Troopers don’t climb latters so well but we managed and took the mile ride back to the staging area where we dismounted and attacked the food tables again.

Rounding out the day squad members wiped out the rest of the food and chatted it up and then we called it a day and for some headed to our evening places to celebrate the incoming new year.

Here are some photos of the event.

Photographers: Walter Woodruff and Kaelin Clevinger

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Group Photo with 501st Members – I am on the right.

So for my 3rd Troop I was able to march in the Gator Bowl Parade in downtown Jacksonville. This was a mile long troop and it was packed with spectators on both sides of the street. This was my first parade since marching band in high school aside from the Disney parade which was more a production then a march and then it was not one on this level. I had a blast hanging with all the 501st members and learning what to do and not do. Everybody was friendly and helpful which is one reason I am proud to be a part of the 501st the people are very open and inviting.

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Even the Empire has it’s cheerleader. black and white strips and me second to the right with pom poms.

This would be the first troop where I would run head on with photo fans. I had been warned that when you do a troop like this what would take 15 min to walk a mile could turn into an hour because of all the photo ops.

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Yep that me with a pom pom cheering on the empire lol.. I am the one on the left

On this day the photo op’s  started the moment we hit the staging area. It seemed the cheerleaders like guys in uniform with all the photo request we got, I think they would be surprised to know there are some women under some of them buckets lol. but I was taken back by how a crowed of people will flock to you. I had seen it a little  handling for the Art Walk but this was a big crowd and were in the parade along with us. But it was enjoyable and interesting all at the same time.

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Stand around waiting for the 3:00 pm step off for the parade. poor Vader (Michael Joiner) had to wear his helmet longer then the rest of us.

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That would be me, Rob and Mongo (I think its Mongo) hitch’in a ride on the ST Augustine Ghost tours bus

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here we are marching down the street. I would be the one on the left behind the young Jedi.

After standing around for an hour in costume we started lining up and I was lucky enough to march along side Vader. I stood to his right and tried to keep pace but being a first time and my own excitement I would tend to walk ahead of Vader from time to time and would have to slow down. I liked the fact unlike the Disney Parade that we could walk over to the fans and give high fives or a wave to the people waving back to you. some of the guys, the one who have done this for years really interacted with the crowed. they were great as they danced around and posed for photos but I was good to give high fives and try to keep pace with Vader. I must say for a mile long troop once we got started walking it didn’t take as long as I first thought. Before I knew it we were done and gathering up for some last min instruction.

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This is me on the long walk back to our cars. I was walking with Mongo, Rob and a few others. we were all tired and ready for some water and shade.

Once the short meeting was done we had options to take a shuttle bus (with crowed) or walk back a few blocks from the parade. So I decided to walk the mile back and get back to the staging/parking grounds. It seemed longer walking back then the parade itself. The other guys were correct and I followed their lead whenever we got close to a crowed of people we put the helmets/Buckets back on and like clock work were stopped for photo. even being tired and feet hurting it was nice to stop and see the smiles on the kids faces as they got a chance to get a picture with a real life Stormtrooper.

I had a really good time at this event I was happy to talk with so many of the other members and I am still trying to remember all the names and faces.  So this was Troop number 3 and I plan to do many more so if you want to  read about my new adventures you can sigh up on right side of the menu bar. you will be sent an email anytime I post to this site.

Take care

‘Trooper Out

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501st Members group photo with buckets on.

Photos courtesy of Rob Wojczyk

here is the “uncut” feed from the parade on Channel 4. Look for us just after the 36 minute mark…
http://www.news4jax.com/news/Uncut-Gato … index.html

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