Convoy Day #1 (Sunday)
The day began with a quick stop for coffee and then on to the Worcester Wreath shipping facility to pick up the Oakhurst trailer. Joe confirmed all was well by performing his vehicle inspection, which included inspecting the load. He was hoping to place a few pieces of gear and luggage on the back of the trailer – but no such luck! The trailer is loaded so full, there is barely enough room to close the back door – over 3,450 wreaths ready to make the trip!!
Joe and Parker made their way from the shipping facility over to Narraguagus High School in Harrington for breakfast and a safety briefing scheduled for 7:45am. This was their first opportunity to see all the trailers that have come from many miles to make the trip. The view is awe-inspiring. Among all the tractor/trailers, there are military personnel, the Patriot Guard riders and numerous public safety vehicles ready to lead the way to the first stop at the Hancock American Legion Post (which is actually in Trenton). It was a bit cold and windy but the event was the first introduction to all the people that Joe would spend the next seven days with.
Breakfast was good – with plenty of Oakhurst products provided to all those associated with the trip. After the safety briefing, we were able to snap a few photos before Joe needed to prep the truck for departure. We were able to briefly tour one of the Worcester Wreath factories to watch the final wreaths assembled by the Girls and Boy Scouts. A handful of veterans complete the final wreaths that were packed into a Hannaford trailer. The rest of the convoy waited patiently for the Hannaford trailer – 2013 Convoy “#1”. At promptly 9:00am, 25 trucks departed from the high school overflowing with wreaths, beginning the journey. It would be a 45-minute ride to the first stop in Trenton.
During the first-leg of the trip, both Joe and Parker had the first taste of what this trip means to so many people. There were so many people lining the rural roads of Harrington, Cherryfield, Milbridge and other down east towns. Veterans saluting, fire departments and many, many children lined the roads. A family displayed a flag, boots and photo of a fallen hero and an older woman mouthed the words. “God Bless You”, as Joe and Parker navigated our truck carefully through these small towns. Church congregations stepped outside of the church to get a glimpse and offer their support as the trucks made their way to Trenton.
As the convoy entered Ellsworth, there was plenty of police support that closed all intersections so they could motor safely and efficiently through the town. Upon arrival at the Hancock Legion Post, the trucks were smartly organized into a very small parking lot like a jigsaw puzzle. Joe got the opportunity to see his sister, who is from the area and she enjoyed seeing both Joe and Parker. A 4-year old boy got a chance to climb into the Oakhurst tractor and pull the air-horn, and then surprised Joe with a big hug to thank him. Into the truck and the convoy prepped for the next leg to Belfast at the Bank of America facility for lunch.
As the convoy passed through downtown Ellsworth, we caught some fantastic footage of the entire convoy. The Wal-Mart group of trucks were very impressive, but we think the Oakhurst truck, tractor and skirt package still looks great!
Upon arrival in Belfast, the Bank of America parking lot is huge, so that made it easy to enter and coordinate a safe exit. It is a beautiful facility and Parker was able to take a bunch of photos (which we will post to our Facebook page). Thanks Parker !!! Lunch was great – another great opportunity to get to know even more people. The convoy departed and headed down the coast through Camden, Rockport and landed at a quick stop at an Elk’s Lodge in Rockland. There were a few little navigation hiccups, but after some CB banter with the Wal-Mart pup truck, they safely navigated through town and got back on track. Onward to Freeport….
The convoy made its way down the coast and worked their way back to the highway for a short ride down to the exit in Freeport. The convoy route took them down Main Street where a few commuters got pushed to the sidewalk after ignoring the police escort. Everyone stopped for a brief ceremony in front of the fire department before pushing on to Scarborough.
The convoy then made its annual stop at Cabela’s in Scarborough to cap off the first day of the journey to Arlington National Cemetery. Supporters braved the cold, holding candles and cheering as the line of cars and trucks came in with ceremonious beeps and sirens.
After the last part of the convoy made its way down the boulevard, the crowd gathered around to witness the wreath laying at this stop. Joe pulled the truck right up to where the ceremony was being held and was quick to hop out of the truck to greet his girlfriend, Heidi who would be joining him for the remainder of the trip. It was nice to see many of the attendees take photographs near our truck.
The ceremony was kicked off with a medley of patriotic songs performed by the Maine Public Safety Pipe and Drum Corps. After some introductions were made and thanks given, the Navy Seal Cadets performed their flag ceremony while the poem “My Name is Old Glory” by SMSgt. Don S. Miller was read aloud. Wreaths Across America founder, Karen Worcester, then spoke about Wreath’s Across America and its purpose, to remind everyone of the importance of groups (such as this one) that pay homage to our fallen heroes who so proudly offer their service.
After the ceremony, the drivers of the WAA fleet were invited into Cabela’s for a dinner generously put on by the outdoor outfitter and Oakhurst happily donated all of the drinks for the occasion. After a long day of driving, Joe was happy to get a good night’s sleep knowing the journey was only just beginning…