Wet weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of 44 Australian Air Force cadets from the City of Maitland 308 Squadron as they took part in an ancient ceremony on Saturday.
The airforce cadets were only the third group to be granted the Freedom of Entry ceremony, the first since the crew of HMAS Maitland seven years ago.
The honour dates back to ancient Rome and is bestowed on military groups as recognition of their service to the city.
The cadets set off from the Bourke Street intersection of High Street at 9.30am and proceeded to the town hall.
The commander of the Central Hunter police challenged them midway and they presented him with a scroll which showed they had the right to march.
The squadron’s commanding officer Michael Kasey said he was delighted with the tribute and thankful the rain held off.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” he said.
“It was a massive honour and a privilege.
“It sort of sprinkled a bit after we finished and then came down heavy while we were having the civic reception at the town hall.
“It was broken up into two parts, firstly there was the granting of the freedom where we received the scroll then secondly the actual march was were we exercised our right or the freedom to march through the city with swords drawn.”
Mr Kasey said the cadets relished the experience and learnt a great deal about the significance of the honour.
“They were astounded with the whole aspect of it,” he said.
“They didn’t realise the honour behind it and how it dates back to ancient times.
“They listened very closely to the story the town crier came out with and it really was a wonderful experience.”