Gov. Mark R. Warner suffered the heat with everyone else. Walking in the open, he drew applause as he moved from one side of the street to the other, shaking hands and handing out candy to children.
The enthusiasm of the crowd seemed to confirm that the patriotic fervor experienced after Sept. 11 is still alive and well in Northern Virginia.
In every direction, on the floats and in the crowd as well, the red, white and blue of the American flag was visible.
The flag was not only flown but printed on T-shirts and ball caps. Women stuck small flags in their hair.
“It just seemed the appropriate place to put it,” said Dawn Maughan of Woodbridge, who was waiting to see her daughter Maureen pass by with the Gar-Field High School marching band.
The crowd saw the Potomac Cannons mascot, various Cub Scout troops throwing candy and a group of car dealers from Lindsay Chevrolet taking a stab at singing patriotic songs.
But the largest ovations came for the fire departments and military units. Almost everyone able to stand did so when they came by.
Wearing a “These Colors Don’t Run” T-shirt and a ball cap with American flags stuck in, Joseph Allen of Dale City drank from a small cooler as the parade moved by.
“I haven’t missed this parade in 20 or some years. I always like the parade. It’s a tradition in Dale City,” he said.
Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 725-6022.