NATO and Norfolk equals fun. Here’s why

NORFOLK — This city will be invaded later this week.

No need to panic though. It’ll be a fun, friendly invasion.

The Norfolk NATO Festival, an annual event that is in its 65th year, will bring pomp and circumstance, and food and fun to the city.

The event kicks-off at 5 p.m. Thursday with a flag raising in the Scope Plaza.

Saturday at 10 a.m., the 65th Parade of Nations will roll through Downtown Norfolk and feature floats from each of NATO’s 29 member nations and marching bands — both international and local and visiting high school bands.

Immediately following the parade, attendees can stroll through the International Village in Town Point Park, where from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. they can interact with representatives of the NATO nations, as well as sampling international food, art, and cultural offerings.

As home to North American home of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, the Norfolk NATO Festival highlights the Command’s influence and impact in the world, and in the Hampton Roads area.

“The city, and the region as a whole, serve as exceptional hosts to military and civilian personnel posted to Allied Command Transformation,” said Jay Paxton, the Command’s chief public affairs officer. “Command personnel are welcomed at the Norfolk Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, baseball games, hockey games, municipal meetings and much, much more.”

He said the Alliance’s presence in the city has created a multicultural environment with a vibrant international community that makes Norfolk a dynamic and exciting place. It is estimated, Paxton added, that the Allied Command contributes $100 million to the local economy every year.

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