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Peach parade to be led by high-ranking local Marine

Michael P. Barrett, a 1981 graduate of Lewiston-Porter High School and highest-ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Marine Corps, will be the honorary grand marshal of this year's Niagara County Peach Festival parade and will receive a commendation from the Town of Lewiston.

The parade will begin its march along Center Street near Academy Park, site of the festival, at 11 a.m. Sept. 10. The commendation will be presented and Barrett will make brief remarks at 6:45 p.m. that evening at the Peach Festival grandstand.

The 54th annual festival, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, also will feature competitions for peach queen, peach blossom and peach fuzz contestants, cheerleading competition, a peach taste-off and dessert bake-off, a blood drive, musical entertainment and amusement rides.

Parade chairman Jerald Wolfgang said, "We are proud and honored to have our hometown hero, Sgt. Maj. Barrett, lead the Peach Festival parade, especially on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of the 9/1 1 attacks.

"He is the highest ranking enlisted Marine in the corps and his decision to commemorate this event here at home speaks volumes about the Lewiston and Youngstown community."

He will lead the parade, along with the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps of Albany, Ga., which was named the Marine Corps Band of the Year for 2010.

Festival chairman Michael Roemer called the event "an old-fashioned festival complete with a parade, peach shortcake, hot dogs, hamburgers, carnival rides and three days of stage entertainment."

Roemer said Upstate New York Transplant Services will hold a blood drive from 3 to 8 p.m. Sept. 9 on the Portage Road side of the festival grounds. This will be the second year that the organization has held a blood drive during the Peach Festival. To schedule an appointment, callUNYTS at 512-7940.

A native of Youngstown, Barrett enlisted in the Marine Corps upon graduation from Lew-Port and rose through the ranks to become the 17th sergeant major in Marine Corps history on June 9.

His military career includes combat service during the Gulf War, and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also personally served former President Bill Clinton as gunnery sergeant in the Marine Security Company at the Camp David presidential retreat and as liaison to the U.S. Secret Service.

Barrett's personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with combat "V" and gold star, seven other gold stars with medals or ribbons, and the Presidential Service Badge.

Nicholas V. Morreale, chairman of advance ticket sales for the rides, said reduced-fare tickets are on sale at about 30 businesses in the Lewiston area.

Advance tickets, which provide a 50 percent saving on all rides, are good for all three days of the festival. The cost is $20 for a strip of 14 tickets, each of which is good for one ride. These tickets must be purchased by the morning of Sept. 10.

Admission to the festival grounds is free.

Festival hours are from 5 to 11 p.m. Sept. 9; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 10, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 11.

email: rbaldwin@buffnews.com