CONNEAUT — Hundreds of people lined Broad Street on Friday evening to celebrate the birth of the country and watch friends and relatives march in the Conneaut Fourth of July Festival Parade.
The parade stepped off from Depot Street just after 7 p.m. as children eagerly waited the horn blast of emergency vehicles and the opportunity to gather candy tossed from politicians and other organizations.
Rick Lillie, 42, said he has been coming to the parade since he was a child. “I am 42 years old,” he said.
“I live right around the corner. I just walk down,” Lillie said. He said his motivation has changed as far as watching the parade.
“As a kid it was all about the candy,” Lillie said. He said his family now enjoys seeing friends and neighbors lined near the 16th Street intersection.
The Reed family is camping near Andover and heard about the parade and took a drive north. “We just heard about the parade,” he said.
Parade organizers LInda Polchosky and Matt Crawford gathered the parade participants along Broad and Depot streets with an honor guard leading the way followed by a large contingent of emergency vehicles.
Polchosky said it takes a couple of months to get the parade together and starts with correspondence with participants from the previous year’s parade. “We have about 82 units,” she said.
A unit, however, can be a large group of vehicles or people, she said. Organizers said all the emergency vehicles are considered one unit.
Polchosky said some people just show up the night of the parade.
A wide variety of participants ranged from a horse-drawn wagon, to World War II re-enactors to a Batman car replica.
Grace Tuuri, Lew Howell and Bonnie Howell got their lawn chairs placed near the Depot Street intersection and Tuuri had a sharp eye out for her granddaughter Vivianna Celini who was crowned “Little Miss Firecracker” on Thursday afternoon.
Conneaut resident Ruth Farr said she has been coming to the parade since her children were young and now comes with her grandchildren. “I love to see people happy and I am very proud of my country,” she said.
Melinda Onion said she was born and raised in Conneaut and has childhood memories of the parade. She said preferred parking at a friends house was helpful as they got to the Broad Street underpass with 10 minutes to spare.
The festival continues today at Lakeview Park with the Conneaut Idol contest, food, games, amusement rides and 10 p.m. fireworks.