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Seaway festival parade brings crowds to Ford Street

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OGDENSBURG — Festivities continued Saturday at the International Seaway Festival, when over 250 groups from all over the county as well as Canada marched two miles down Ford Street for the 53rd annual parade.

People from across the county crowded the sidewalks as high school marching bands, clowns, stilt walkers, fire departments, non-profit organizations, the National Guard and several other groups made their way down Ford Street, tossing candy to wide-eyed children who lined the curb of the road.

“We’re emphasizing the international part of the seaway festival, which has always been the theme for the past 53 years since we started it,” said Christopher S. Cole, head chairman of the seaway festival. “The parade is supposed to be for the kids and just a family-type environment.”

Elizabeth T. Harper, Lisbon, said she comes to Ogdensburg to watch the parade every year with her grandchildren. She said the music is her favorite part, especially since one of her grandchildren performed in the parade as a member of a high school band.

“We sit in the same spot every year,” she said. “The bands that have been going by today are just great.”

Mr. Cole said that at one point the parade was ranking third largest in New York State, but they’ve dropped to around fifth. He said the parade usually lasts about two hours.

“I’ve got a lot of support from people who really helped me out,” said Mike Cole, Mr. Christopher Cole’s cousin who is chairman of the parade. “It’s fabulous that we get such a turnout and we couldn’t do it without the volunteers.”

Kevin R. Joanette, Ogdensburg, Joe P. Graveling, Ogdensburg, and Amy C. Thompson, Watertown, are festival volunteers who helped organize the parade. Mr. Joanette said they walk up and down the street with the bands and floats to make sure children stay out of the road.

“It’s basically just helping the chairman set the parade up, getting the bands and floats set up and making sure everybody’s in line and equally spaced out,” he said. “It’s all volunteers and in the last couple years we’ve really picked up a lot of youth which is good and shows us that in future events and festivities, we’ve got somebody that’s going to step up to the plate and take over when we can’t.”

Gregoire Dunlevy is a stilt walker from Montreal, Canada, who performed in the parade with his team called B Flat on Sticks. Mr. Dunlevy said that he has been to Haiti, Japan, France and Ireland to participate in parades as a stilt walker simultaneously playing a saxophone.

“I love international experiences,” he said. “If they have me back, I’ll definitely come back.”

Pierre Raymond, Montreal, has been coming to the parade for over 20 years. He acts as a manager for several Canadian groups who cross the border to perform including a marching band from Toronto called the Tian Guo, a jazz band called the Blues Brothers, a third band called Savoy’s and B Flat on Sticks.

“We specialize in parades and public events,” Mr. Raymond said. “This parade is a great place and the musicians and artists love it.”





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