By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY — Leaning against the Bud’s in Bloom building along Spring Street, Chase James and Zack Gunther waited for the Harvest Homecoming Parade to make its way downtown.
Though the cool fall air had been ushered in by the rainfall of the night before, the sun shown on the young men’s faces as they discussed their reasons for attending the festivity.
James said he was there mainly to see his niece, who rode on one of the dozens of floats in the parade. The event is a great time to enjoy kids at play, he continued.
“I think it’s nice to let them come out here and enjoy themselves,” James said.
Like James, Gunther lives in Clarksville and came to New Albany on Saturday to take in the scenery.
“This is actually the first time I’ve been to the parade,” Gunther added. “It’s just a nice little day to hang out and be with friends.”
He admitted they weren’t just there to watch fire trucks and antique cars parade through downtown. With a grin, James said they wouldn’t mind running into a few “hotties” during the autumn afternoon.
As evident by the shrills and girlish sighs as he passed by, New Albany native, actor and parade grand marshal Josh Dallas wasn’t hurting for attention. Two teenage girls ran toward his float as he neared the Bank Street intersection of Spring Street, and he had the driver of the blue Ford Mustang he sat atop halt the car for a quick picture with the two.
Obviously pleased with having an arm around Dallas as their picture was snapped, the girls ran back to the sidewalk bellowing as if they’d just seen The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
Sires from fire engines blared while a wagon carrying passengers dressed in 1800s clothing to celebrate New Albany’s upcoming bicentennial passed by. New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and his family waived at people who lined up on the sidewalks to get a peak at the floats, and a giant fake pumpkin was pulled along with its bright orange color reminding spectators that the season has changed.
Though some official events had already taken place, the parade serves as the focal kickoff of Harvest Homecoming. Booth days will begin Thursday and run through Sunday in downtown New Albany, as Harvest Homecoming is annually one of the top attended festivals in Indiana.
Thousands of families have made Harvest Homecoming a tradition, and Vera Gordon and her loved ones are among that number. On Saturday, she stood beside her daughter, Veralyn Southers, with toddler-aged grandchildren grasping at their knees as the parade wound down Spring Street.
“It’s been a lifelong ordeal for me,” said Gordon, who has been attending the parade for more than 40 years.
She grew up just a few blocks from where she watched the parade at Saturday, but has since moved to Jeffersonville like her daughter. Still, they always make it back for the parade and for the booth days.
“It’s a kick-off of the fall festival,” Southers said. “The kids enjoy it, and we enjoy it too.”
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