The longest running festival in the Hampton Roads region, Norfolk NATO Festival, is an annual event recognising and celebrating the contributions and international influence of the more than 750 ACT staff members in the local community.
The festival started Friday with a flag raising ceremony outside of the Norfolk Scope Arena. Hosted by Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros, the ceremony raises the flags of all 28 NATO nations while playing their respective National Anthems.
"Our gathering is a clear demonstration of our willingness to protect our values, promote peace and fight for it if needed," said General Paloméros. I hope we will see in the foreseeable future even more of these flags flying together in a world of peace.
Joining General Paloméros was The Mayor of the City of Norfolk the honourable Paul D. Fraim. "As we listened to the U.S. Fleet Forces Band play the National Anthems of the 28 member nations it served as a reminder of the diversity and strength of the NATO alliance" said Mayor Fraim.
The Virginia International Tattoo followed the flag raising, showcasing an international cast of hundreds of military bands, drill teams, dancers and choirs.
The festival continued on Saturday morning with the 62nd Annual Parade of Nations. U.S. and international military bands along with local and visiting high school bands marched through downtown Norfolk accompanied by floats designed and decorated by the 28 NATO nations to display their distinct heritage and cultures.
After the parade the thousands of attendees moved into Town Pointe Park to keep the festival going with music, performances, artworks and tastes of international foods and beverages.