In times of need, we might not always remember to thank our local law enforcement officers and first responders. But on Friday night, the Upshur County community did just that, as a part of its annual Strawberry Festival.
This is the sixth year that local sheriff's deputies, police officers, and state troopers were invited to join local firemen on Main Street as part of the Fireman's Parade. It's an experience that many members of the law enforcement community said they wouldn't pass up.
"It's gracious of the firemen to allow us come into their parade," said Deputy Virgil Miller of the Upshur County Sheriff's Department, "and especially in light of the past several years...officers we've lost, we like to think of them."
The tradition is an idea that continues to sit well with most people, including state officials and spectators.
"[The idea of] some of your law enforcement, in the parade, with their lights flashing, it would just show such unity," said Georgia Hatfield, regional coordinator for the Governor's Highway Safety Program (GHSP).
"They're supporting the people that actually make a difference in our community. They're the ones that come out, help us, when we're in need of help, and we can actually see where our tax dollars are going, all for a good cause," said Adam Kelly of Buckhannon.
Authorities say there's never a day off in the business. Before the parade, they discussed the "Click it or Ticket" law that will come into effect this summer.
This is Miller's 33rd year at the Strawberry Festival, and he said he has mixed emotions, since he'll likely be retiring this year.
"It's kind of bittersweet for me, knowing it probably is my last one," said Miller.
The Strawberry Festival continues on Saturday with the Grand Feature parade and other events.