By Karolyn Gephart
A large, festive car parade was organized and held recently to brighten the day of Friendswood resident Jerry Ericsson.
Ericsson is battling a medical condition that has made him unable to visit friends and family due to treatments as well as isolation at home due to COVID-19 guidelines.
His friends decided his day needed brightening and he needed to see how much support he has from his community.
A car parade has become a popular way to celebrate events and cheer parades give people a safe way to extend support while being safe and socially distant. Rotarians Scott Dayton and Judy Wiggins thought it would be a great idea to do this for Ericsson and presented the idea and others agreed.
The parade for Ericsson consisted of Rotary members, city staff and employees, neighbors, friends, committee partners, police escort and fire department members with lights and sirens, American flags, signs, balloons, posters and banners all with positive and cheerful messages for Ericsson who held the seat of honor in the front yard of his home near the street.
He spoke to and waved to people in cars and trucks, convertibles, classic and antique vehicles, police cars, fire engines, people and their pets, and two good friends who rode motorcycles in the parade.
“Jerry is not only a hero, but an all-around great man. It was heartwarming to see so many in the community come out and support him,” Rotary member Judy Wiggins said.
Many cars had signs on them that read “Jerry Ericsson: Part Time Hero, And All Around Great Guy.”
Ericsson is a Lt. Col. (ret) from the US Army and was a 30 year Army Officer and Apache, Blackhawk, Cobra, and Huey pilot with more than 2000 Combat Hours,10,000 total.
He served on the Friendswood City Council from 1996-2005. He is currently a Rotary member and serves on the Friends of Downtown Friendswood organization as well as many other groups during his time in Friendswood.
Former City Manager Ron Cox worked with Ericsson when he was on Council.
“Susan and I are so proud to call Jerry and Becky Ericsson our friends. I was fortunate enough to work alongside Jerry for several years while he served on the City Council. He showed thoughtfulness, character and integrity from day one, and still remains so today,” Cox said. “Jerry is used to the battlefront – Vietnam, sometimes City Council, and now, and we wish him and Becky the best as he fights this battle.”
Many Rotary members showed their support in the parade for Ericsson.
“Jerry’s dedication to “service above self” makes a positive difference in our community and our Rotary Club,” Rotarian Dave Barron said.
Many in the parade have worked with Ericsson on other committees and events.
“I’ve developed a man-crush on Jerry shortly after meeting him. The more I discovered about him the more I respected the man. He served both his country and the town he lives in, first in Vietnam as an Apache helicopter pilot, flying over 2,500 combat hour during some of the most heated battles of Vietnam, not to mention 1,800 medevacs of soldiers and other various duties, such as spraying agent orange,” Jimmy Gerland, Friendswood resident and realtor said. “I’ve had the pleasure of serving on several committees here in Friendswood with Jerry and his input was always been appreciated and insightful. It saddens me to see what he’s experiencing currently and I wish him and his family peace and comfort at this time.”
Ericsson was the first person current Mayor Mike Foreman and his wife Lorrie met when they moved to the city.
“Jerry was one of the first neighbors we met when we moved to Friendswood in 1998. He’s been a great friend ever since,” Foreman said. “I wholeheartedly supported the idea for a drive-by parade to honor Jerry’s many contributions to our city, state and country. He is a great American!”
Ericsson supported Foreman when he ran for mayor and convinced his other neighbor to get involved with the city.
“I have been Jerry’s next door neighbor for the past 27 years. Like so many, Jerry has been an inspiration to me with his service to country (2 tours as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam!) and Friendswood as a 3-term city councilman. He inspired me to join the Planning and Zoning commission and I am proud to call him a friend,” neighbor Richard Sasson said.
The parade accomplished its mission very successfully. Memories were shared, good wishes extended, and bright smiles were sent Ericsson’s way as the many parts of the long cheer parade drove by a man the parade participants know and love so well.