HEUVELTON - Hundreds of revelers braved overcast skies, blustery conditions, and sporadic rain to take in the annual Labor Day weekend parade in Heuvelton Sunday.
This year’s theme at the annual event was Hillbilly Holidays, a two-day family-oriented festival that began Saturday and included everything from canoe races and flea markets to fireworks and a parade through downtown streets.
Sunday’s parade, one of the highlights of the weekend festivities, began shortly after 1 p.m., as a light rain sifted down on the hundreds of people lining the Oswegatchie River-community’s main thoroughfare fare. Umbrellas and children clad in multi-colored rain slickers were common place along the parade route, but no one in the sizeable crowd seemed to let the weather dampen their spirits.
At 59 State St., Richard E. and Mary E. Barlow talked with friends and neighbors as they casually watched the steady stream of floats, fire trucks and the school marching band pass through the community from the dry vantage point of their home’s large front porch. The couple, both retired teachers from Heuvelton Central School, said they have watched more Labor Day parades from their downtown perch than they can remember.
They said seldom do they miss the community event, and that the parade’s small town charm never feels stale or old.
“We’ve been at this house 52 years, and our kids were some of the first to march in it,” said Mrs. Barlow, referring to the Labor Day weekend parade.
The Barlows said the reason they believe Heuvelton has managed to keep its annual Labor Day festival alive over the years is because there continues to be a strong tradition of volunteerism and community spirit in the village that transcends generations.
“We have a good bunch of volunteers, and no one wants to see it end,” said Mr. Barlow.
Added Mrs. Barlow, “I think it’s because the young people are staying involved in the process.”
A block up the street from the Barlow home, Molly M. Ladouceur was watching the Heuvelton High School marching band put on a baton-twirling, flag-furling performance in front the grandstand with her six-month-old infant Maxden H. Ladoucer. Mrs. Ladouceur said she grew up near Heuvelton, but that her husband was born and raised in the village. She said knowing the community the way she does, it was not at all surprising to see so many people lining the streets for Sunday’s parade - and staying put - even though the weather turned out to be less than optimal.
“I’m not surprised. It’s the town where we live, it’s a town where everybody knows everybody,” said Mrs. Ladouceur. “It’s a place where everybody looks out for everybody.”