A ceremony steeped in tradition will be held on the city streets this weekend to reaffirm and support the Navy’s presence in Cairns.
The crew of HMAS Cairns will undertake a Freedom of Entry March from the Lagoon Plaza at 8.30am on Saturday 25 June into the CBD before an “official challenge” to enter the city.
About 140 Navy officers and sailors will take part in the ceremonial march, which will include beating drums, colours flying and the Australian Navy band.
“The procession will start at the Lagoon Plaza, move down Shields St, turn into Abbott St and will halt when it reaches the City Library,” Mayor Bob Manning said.
“At that point, Acting Assistant Police Commissioner, Glenn Morris, of Cairns Police will place a verbal challenge to the Navy’s entry that will be answered in traditional ceremonious fashion by the HMAS Cairns Commanding Officer, Commander Alfonso Santos.”
This will be the first time in five years that Cairns has borne witness to this ceremony.
“The granting of the Freedom of Entry to the City represents the highest civil honour that a city can bestow on a military unit,” Cr Manning said.
“It is a symbolic honour, demonstrating trust, loyalty and sense of community between the city and the military.”
The Freedom of Entry March stems from 12th century Europe, when military units would seek the freedom to recruit and trade within the walls of a city.
The unit would then march ceremoniously through the streets in a display of trust and friendship with between the citizens and military personnel.
Commanding Officer HMAS Cairns, Commander Alfonso Santos, said the event reinforces the strong connection Navy personnel have with Far North Queensland.
“Since World War II, the Cairns community has always stood by the Navy. Cairns was the final port of call for many ships heading to the Pacific – this strong support continues today,” he said.
“The Freedom of Entry is an opportunity for Navy to say how proud we are to serve and call the city our home.”
Following the official challenge, the procession will travel from the City Library along Florence St and on to the Esplanade.
There will be a formal salute at the Cenotaph before finishing at the Lagoon Plaza.
Members of the public are invited to line the streets and to be a part of this historic event.
The event requires rolling road closures between 8.15am and 9.45am on Saturday 25 June, starting at the corner of Esplanade and Shields St, followed by Shields St to Abbott St, then Abbott St to Florence St, and finally Florence St to the Esplanade.