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Wheels Of Freedom Celebration Planned
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Memorial Day weekend 2010 will feature something new in Escalon, with the Wheels of Freedom event being planned.

Sponsored by the American Legion Post 263 (Gustafson Thompson Post) in Escalon, the Saturday, May 29 event will kick off Memorial Day weekend festivities and feature a military vehicle, automobile and bike show in the downtown area. Also planned is a parade, with a special salute to World War II veterans.

Serving as primary coordinator for the festivities is Legion member Harold Peterson.

"The parade will start with a flyover of a P51 Mustang, it's a 2200 horsepower airplane, we also will have some F16's from the Fresno Air National Guard," Peterson explained.

A few other airplanes are anticipated, said Peterson, but details are still being worked out. Also expected in the parade are a half-track and a turret from a B17, mounted on a trailer, along with a Humvee.

Classic cars from the horseless carriage garage of Don Ritchey will be used to transport local World War II veterans along the parade route, and Peterson said he hopes to have them available later in the day at the city's Main Street Park for a 'question and answer' session with anyone interested.

Auto enthusiasts will be asked to bring the military vehicles, classic cars and motorcycles to the park for display throughout the day and Peterson is also working on some vendors to join the mix.

The American Legion Riders, the motorcycle group of the local American Legion Post, will have a presence there as well and Peterson said he hopes to have Oakdale resident Doris Wanty, who was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her service as a WASP during World War II, on hand for the day of celebration.

Peterson said he is looking for parade participants, anyone that wants to enter a float, march in the parade or provide some music, is welcome to call him at 847-4432 for more information.

"I've always had a vision of a P51 opening a parade," he said of looking forward to the flyover.

His son, local physician Dr. Bob Peterson, is scheduled to be a back seat passenger in the P51 as it buzzes Main Street to kick off the parade.

"I think it's really going to be something special," said Peterson. "I really do."