ASHTABULA — Dragon pride fired up Main Avenue Wednesday night.

For the first time ever, Lakeside High School’s homecoming parade marched along Main Avenue, bringing parents, siblings and spectators to downtown Ashtabula.

Local merchants took advantage of the situation, staying open late and offering specials to parade-goers. They also decorated inside and out with inflatable dragons, green and gold balloons, Lakeside pennants and signs.

“We’re showing our Dragon pride,” said Jane Haines, president of the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association and owner of Ultimate Appearance Salon on Main Avenue. “We are excited about the parade and we want people to know it.”

For decades the parade route went from the high school on West 44th Street to Guarnieri Field, off West Avenue. But with the new high school in Saybrook Township, school officials decided to have the parade on Main Avenue.

Linda Tryon of Ashtabula stood along the sidewalk, waiting to see her grandchildren, Dillon and Brittney Moyer march in the parade.

“It’s nice they are getting the kids involved in the parade,” she said.

Ashtabula resident Stephanie Smith cheered on her daughter, Darrah Smith, a member of Lakeside High’s homecoming court.

Darrah rode first class, as did her fellow attendants — in BMW and Mustang convertibles, Hummers and a classic Malibu.

“Go Lakeside!” could be heard many times over as the parade marched by the crowd of on-lookers.

Jennifer Ellis of Ashtabula waved to her daughter, Ivory Peek, a cheerleader for the Jets, a midget league football team.

“I have kids in everything,” she said.

Ashtabula Police Capt. Gerald Cornelius drove the department’s sports utility vehicle in the parade. City firefighters followed behind him in the department’s ladder truck.

The Lakeside band, majorettes and flag corps dazzled the crowd with music and students from every Ashtabula Area City School marched in groups behind it.

There were floats and vans, too. But Olajuwan Smith, 11, said the best part of the parade was seeing his sister.

The parade culminated with a pep rally in North Park.

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