Marching in perfect precision, hundreds of cadets from a dozen different units across Cape Breton paraded to City Hall on Saturday, to be honoured in one of many ceremonies marking Cadet Day across the province.

Since 2010, Nova Scotia has recognized Cadet Day on the first Saturday in October to recognize the positive contributions of Cadets to their communities, and the hard work and dedication of all cadets, volunteers and supporters of the cadet program.

“It’s kind of a hidden secret, people don’t know that the youth are doing the things that they’re doing. So today, to get all of these lovely, intelligent and well-dressed young people out and just showcase all of their expertise, it’s just fantastic,” says Maj. Dodie Hanna of the 29 Sydney Kiwanis & Band Air Cadets.

Across the province, Nova Scotia has 86 cadet units with nearly 3500 cadets. It is the only province in Canada to have an official day celebrating cadets.

In Sydney, hundreds of air, army, and sea cadets marched to City Hall where they awarded the given ‘Freedom of the City’, a historic tradition signifying a city’s trust in a military unit.

“For the dignitaries to come out and recognize them as the people that have fought for our communities, and for the freedom that we get to enjoy today. So it’s just in recognition of those individuals that partake in our various different sea cadets and air cadets,” says CBRM Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald.

Cadets gives youth aged 12-18 the opportunity to explore the careers offered by the military. The fresh-faced teenagers say they enjoyed the recognition of Cadet Day.

“It’s the Sea Cadets centennial year, so it means a lot to all of us to be able to march around like this,” says Paula Barrie of the 129 Caribou Sea Cadets.

Others say being in Cadets opens up opportunities, when they might otherwise be home playing video games.

“The best part of it is probably making new friends, having new experiences with people,” says Mitchell Miller of the 3060 Coriano Ridge Army Cadets.

“There’s no electronics, there’s no cell phones, there’s none of those things and they don’t miss any of them,” says Maj. Dodie Hanna.

In Halifax, Cadets celebrated their day by hosting boat rides, musical performances and interactive displays on the Waterfront.

“I’ve been in the program for six years and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” says Tristan MacKay-Malin, Coxswain of the 305 HMCS Sackville. “It is one of my favourite things to do in my past time, and I’m just happy that I get to drive boats every day,”

“I always wanted to be in the military, so this was a great start for me. It really helped me out with life skills, leadership and it taught me a lot,” says Shomoukh Mejjallid of the Army Cadets.

A special ceremony, on a special day for more than 3000 Nova Scotia youth who are taking part in a time-honoured tradition.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.