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Parade honors Charlie Company
Celebrations today thank the Charlie Company for service
Jeri Wallis holds up a balloon arch she put together as part of the decorations for a homecoming celebration for Charlie Company today at Lakeshore Mall. - photo by Tom Reed

A parade and ceremony recognizing Gainesville’s Charlie Company is set for today.

Anyone wishing to show their thanks to the Georgia Army National Guard unit for its one-year service in Afghanistan is asked to line John Morrow and Pearl Nix parkways at Lakeshore Mall.

Make sure to be in place by 9:30 a.m., urges organizers with Operation Patriot’s Call, a local military support group sponsoring the celebration.

“I think it’s going to be great,” said Ron Kellner, who works with the organization. “It’s wonderful that we have the opportunity to recognize our local people, local soldiers who have (served) in helping defend freedom.”

The event will kick off with a parade starting at the National Guard Armory off Alta Vista Road and ending at the mall.

Charlie Company soldiers will enter the mall at the entrance near Belk department store and proceed to the main entrance, where they will file in as two single lines, said Kelly Monroe, the mall’s marketing manager.

A stage will be set up inside the mall facing Belk. There’ll be seating for the soldiers and their families — all others will have to stand.
The ceremony could last an hour or so. An array of speakers and patriotic activities have been planned, including a presentation of colors and children of Charlie Company members leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The featured speaker will be Lt. Col. Matt Smith, 1st Battalion commander of the National Guard’s 121 Infantry (Light) Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade.

After the ceremony, Charlie Company will march back to the armory but this time using Pearl Nix Parkway and Jones Street.

Lunch will be served to the soldiers and the families, and a job fair will be held.

The parade will cause a traffic crunch for a short while at one of Gainesville’s busiest intersections.

Gainesville police Lt. Floyd Canup said Pearl Nix Parkway will be mostly closed between John Morrow Parkway and Shallowford Road.

Motorists will be able to turn right onto Dawsonville Highway from Pearl Nix Parkway.

John Morrow Parkway will be closed between Washington Street and Pearl Nix Parkway.

Also, police will have electronic signs out describing detours for motorists, Canup said.

Streets will reopen after the parade. After the ceremony, Pearl Nix Parkway will be closed briefly at Jones Street.