For the eighth year, members of the VWIL Corps of Cadets along with traditional students who play in the Mary Baldwin/VWIL band, traveled to New York City to participate in the city’s world-renowned St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Last weekend the 85 cadets and 11 band members embarked on a two-day, three-night trip, staying in “sailor holds” upon the training ship Empire State at the State University of New York Maritime College. Cadets toured the ship, including the bridge, navigation room, mess decks, officer quarters, and cargo holds. Cadets experienced the cramped quarters on a maritime ship, particularly important for those cadets seeking commission into the Navy.
The Corps spent most of the next morning waiting for the parade to start, despite the arrival of a winter storm. By the time the Corps stepped off, a heavy snow was falling — sticking to the ground in Central Park — interlaced with freezing rain. Television cameras caught the Corps as they marched up Fifth Avenue in the snow, and despite precipitation encrusting the cadet uniforms, the Corps maintained perfect alignment and military bearing throughout the entire 34-block route. The band, in particular, was magnificent, playing at all the key reviewing points along the route, despite cold, numb fingers.
“It was the worst parade I have ever marched in because we were freezing, but for all that, it was the best the Corps has ever marched,” said Cadet Captain Tesla Goodrich ’13. Two years ago, the Corps won the St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s Best Collegiate Marching Unit trophy for their participation in what is considered the largest parade in the world.
Although the weather prevented a larger crowd from gathering along the route, New Yorkers called out positive and encouraging comments. Freshman Terra Daniels, who was walking along the flank due to an injury, noted that a woman stopped her and praised the Corps for its perseverance and its ability to keep its bearing despite the pelting snow and freezing rain. The spectator also commented that VWIL provided a great face for women in the military.
The Corps also spent some free time having fun in Times Square before returning late Sunday, exhausted, but satisfied at a good job well done.
“[They] did an amazing job, the best that I have seen in all eight years we have gone,” said Brigadier General Michael Bissell, commandant of Cadets.
For more photos and a video of the event, visit the college’s Facebook page.