Practice makes perfect so, by this morning, more than 1,000 sailors will look sharp as they march through the streets of Halifax.
Today is the 100th birthday of the Canadian Navy and sailors are celebrating by parading to city hall.
“It’s going to be pretty important so you want to look good while you’re doing it,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Todd Cholock, who practised marching with his fellow sailors for two days in preparation.
“We’re feeling pretty good.”
They will march to city hall from the dockyards, carrying two large guns, to ask the mayor for the Freedom of the City.
“It’s really nice to be a part of the navy in this point in time,” Cholock said. “There are a lot of huge things going on this year and it’s going to be exciting.”
Besides international port visits and a fleet review, the Queen will visit this summer to mark the occasion.
Mayor Peter Kelly said he’s stoked to inspect the sailors and read a proclamation this morning.
“For us it’s a true recognition of the contributions the navy has made to this area,” he said. “
“We are interlinked and always have been and always will be.”
Around 10,500 people — military and civilian — are employed at CFB Halifax and at 12 Wing Shearwater. The forces contribute about $700 million a year in the HRM.
While he hands out the Freedom of the City at least once a year to smaller units, Kelly said this is the biggest ceremony he can remember.
“It’s not often you get to bestow the Freedom of the City for recognition of contributions in such a centenary,” Kelly said.
Capt. Craig Walkington, co-ordinator of the Maritime Forces Atlantic Canadian Naval Centennial, said he’s expecting between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators at the parade this morning.
• HMCS Fredericton will return to CFB Halifax at 8:30 a.m.
• At 10 a.m., 1,000 sailors including a 50-person guard, flag party, and two gun crews will march to city hall from the navy dockyard. When they arrive at the Grand Parade, they will request the Freedom of the City from Mayor Peter Kelly.
• Kelly will proclaim May 4 as Navy Centennial Day.
• HMCS Toronto will host an enrolment ceremony for 25 new sailors at 2 p.m.