PEMBERVILLE - As the minutes ticked down to the start of the Pemberville Grand Parade Saturday, the organizers were ironing out a few glitches.
|Fire trucks drive through Pemberville Grand Parade (Photos: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
Pemberville residents have high expectations for their parades. They love their marching bands, baton twirlers and floats. They stand and remove their hats when an American flag passes by. And they still set their chairs out the night before to save prized spots along the parade route.
Consequently, there is an awful lot of pressure on the organizers.
"It's such a tradition," said Todd Sheets, head of the Grand Parade. "We were working on the final details at 4 this morning."
Eight hours later, there were still a few kinks. The spot in the parade line-in for a Shriner unit was already taken by another entry. As Sheets tried to answer another question on his walkie-talkie, he was drowned out by a passing marching band.
But Sheets handled it in stride - after all, the biggest parade issue was already in the bag. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and temperatures in the low 80s.
"It's a beautiful day," said Sheets from the parade command central in front of the elementary school. "If you love a parade, you'll love this."
This wasn't the town's biggest parade, but it was plenty long, with 150 entries, including nine marching bands, eight twirling and marching units, and 12 floats. There were prancing horses, waving politicians, shiny fire trucks, and crowned queens.
The parade pressure isn't just felt by Sheets and his crew. Band directors, twirling teams, politicians and fire crews all know that thousands of people will be watching.
Elmwood band director Justin Brinkman arrived at the parade registration table long before sunrise to claim his band's early spot in the parade line-up.
"I got a great spot," he said, asking that the exact time not be revealed so his competition didn't beat him next year.
|Eastwood Marching Band passes through downtown
"This is a nice event. It's well attended. This is one of the largest parades we get to do," Brinkman said. "It's great how the community comes together for this."
Local fire departments expend a lot of elbow grease to shine up their trucks for the annual parade.
"We started at about 9 o'clock this morning and worked a couple hours," said Troy Township Fire Captain Don Golden. The effort showed in the three glistening trucks lined up.
"It's probably the biggest parade I've seen in a small town like this," Golden said. "You see people from all over."
The baton twirlers were also under some added pressure to perform. K.C. Seaman, director of the Harbor Lites Baton Corp, from Oak Harbor, was busy giving her sequined twirlers some last minute instructions.
"They really have to focus," she explained. "It's a great parade. There are always a lot of people watching, and a lot of good competition," she said.
The politicians also realize this is not a parade to miss.
"You get exposure to a lot of people," said Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter, who is running for re-election. "There are a lot of people waving at you. They do a great job of making people feel at home."
The big crowds also inspired members of the Zenobia Lancers with the miniature red cars.
"It's a fun parade," said Vince Foetisch, one of the Lancers as they prepared to climb into their cramped cars. "The bigger the crowds, the better we like it."
Nearby waited the Lake Township Fire Queen Karris Pugh, who was recently crowned the Northwest Ohio Volunteer Fire Department First Runner-Up. She was looking forward to riding in a car this year instead of marching with her band in the long parade. "It's very nice, well put together," she said of the parade.
And it's not just Pemberville residents who have the high expectations for the parade. Many spectators come from nearby towns every year to repeat the tradition.
Joan Schulte, of Woodville, said she has been attending the parade for nearly 40 years.
"It's one of the better parades, and we've seen a lot," she said.
|Dowling 4-H Club float rides through the Pemberville Grand Parade.
Marilyn Lange, of Pemberville, sat in her regular spot on West Front Street, waiting for the parade to start.
"I like the mixture," of fire trucks, police cars, bands and children in the parade. "They all play such an important part in our community. They all have a chance to shine for a day."
Calvin Kohring reminisced about parades gone by when he played trombone in the Eastwood Marching Band. Years later, his children participated in the Kiddie Parade. And Saturday, he stood on the curb waiting once again for the annual tradition march by.
"I enjoy the camaraderie of a small town and everybody coming out," Kohring said. "It's a big deal in a small town."
Dennis Rahe also grew up being part of the town's Kiddie Parades more than 40 years ago.
"It's one of the biggest parades in the state, I think," he said.
Ruth Kruse, who sat in front of the house where she was born, couldn't pinpoint how many years she had attended the parade. "How long has the parade been going on?" she asked, surmising it had been about that long.
Her brother-in-law from Florida joined her this year.
"It's fantastic," Dallas Kruse said. "I love the small town parades. They are always the best."