OGDENSBURG In a highlight of the International Seaway Festival, 250 groups from around St. Lawrence County as well as Canada marched two miles before admiring crowds for the 53rd annual parade.
Spectators crowded the sidewalks as high school marching bands, clowns, stilt walkers, fire departments, nonprofit organizations, the National Guard and other groups made their way along Ford Street, tossing candy to wide-eyed children.
Were 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 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 ranked third largest in New York State, but is now thought to be fifth. It usually lasts two hours.
Ive got a lot of support from people who really helped me out, said Mike Cole, Mr. Christopher Coles cousin who is chairman of the parade. Its fabulous that we get such a turnout, and we couldnt 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.
Its basically just helping the chairman set the parade up, getting the bands and floats set up and making sure everybodys in line and equally spaced out, he said. Its all volunteers and in the last couple years weve really picked up a lot of youth which is good and shows us that in future events and festivities, weve got somebody thats going to step up to the plate and take over when we cant.
Gregoire Dunlevy is a stilt walker from Montreal, 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, Ill definitely come back.
Pierre Raymond, Montreal, has been coming to the parade for more than 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 Savoys, 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.