More than 150 Toms River residents, friends and supporters of Marine Sgt. William P. Carolan lined Silver Bay Rd. and began to clap, wave, cheer as fire trucks and motorcycles enterted the road. The moment was about to begin.
It was time to surprise Carolan, who thought he was getting a simple ride home after serving two deployments in Afghanistan.
Instead, his family and friends made a few phone calls and managed to arrange something much larger scale.
The blare of fire truck sirens, the roar of motorcycle engines, the honk of vehicle horns, the cheers of the crowd filled the street at Carolan drove by.
"I'm at a loss for words," Carolan said. "This is a total surprise."
He was deeply touched by the outpouring of support, he said. Mother Paula Carolan said the event came together after a couple phone calls. Friends in Silverton Fire Company helped coordinate as the American Legion Riders agreed to help ride Carolan home. Toms River Police assisted with traffic safety and provided an escort from the Kohl's parking lot to Vincent Drive.
"He doesn't like to think of himself as a hero. But he's my hero," Paula Carolan said.