The festivities kicked off with the NATO Flag Raising Ceremony on Friday afternoon, NATO night at the Virginia International Tattoo on Friday night and culminated in the annual Parade of Nations and NATOFest on Saturday.
The Festival was attended by thousands of visitors from throughout the United States, as well as many from the Hampton Roads communities. The festival provided an impressive display of the multicultural nature of Norfolk, with every Member nation introducing their country and culture through decorated floats which were paraded through downtown Norfolk, before extending this cultural demonstration with national tents in Town Point Park. Each national team was made up of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation staff members, both military and civilian, and their families, led by their NATO National Liaison Representative.
“These exchanges are part and parcel of our Alliance and the special bond between its members on either side of the Atlantic, based on shared values and a profound friendship”, said Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Denis Mercier.
General Mercier also thanked the city of Norfolk for being a gracious host to the international staff members and their families. “I express my sincere gratitude to the Mayor of Norfolk, and with him, to all the local civilian and military authorities, organizations and neighbours from the Hampton Roads region, who contribute daily to this thriving relationship.”
The events were given an extra flavour by flyovers of the French Air Force demonstration team, the Patrouille de France, who have been touring the United States to commemorate the centennial of the United States entry into World War I and the Trans-Atlantic bond that has endured since. NATO’s Allied Command Transformation encourages every member of the community to take part in the annual festival in order to get to know NATO and its missions, nations, families and personalities better.