By GARY POPP
NEW ALBANY —
Gray clouds and light rain didn’t stop a large crowd from flooding the streets Saturday for the Harvest Homecoming Parade.
Nearly 120 floats made a grand procession from New Albany High School, traveling along Spring Street to the intersection of Elm and Bank streets.
In celebration of New Albany’s historic 200-year anniversary, the parade’s theme was “Harvest to History.”
Many of the parade’s entries recognized New Albany’s bicentennial, including the New Albany Fire Department’s float, which had an early-19th century manual water pump feeding water to extinguish a fire in a home with a sign dating the building to 2013.
Two firefighters dressed in gear worn 200 years ago playfully manned the pump during the parade, spraying the home oozing with faux smoke.
“It brings together today’s firefighting with yesteryear,” said New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot of the festive float.
Juliot gave credit to NAFD Capt. Dave “Sparky” Sparks for building the impressive float, and said by having his firefighters participate in the parade, the department is able to make a connection with the community.
One of the parade’s most festive participants, Mark Sanders, represented the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association by dressing in a colonial-era garb made of gold sequins and wearing a large paper-mache pumpkin on his head.
The neighborhood group had a carefully designed, autumnal-styled float decorated in blossoming mums of seasonal oranges, reds and yellows.
“Most of us live on East Spring Street, the street that the parade goes down, so it’s almost a no-brainer that we should be a part of it,” said Sanders of the neighborhood association, which he serves as the vice president. “We just feel it is something we should do to support the community.”
Sanders said his flashy wardrobe is a big hit among parade-goers.
“The kids just seem to love it. As we are going down the parade route, they are hollering and screaming,” Sanders said.
Under a gray sky, Sanders said he was hoping the sun would come out so his sequinned attire would sparkle even more.
As floats sponsored by city departments, youth groups, churches and businesses recognized the New Albany’s bicentennial, a float by the American Cancer Society celebrated the organization’s 100th anniversary.
“We like to get the recognition out there for the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life,” said Jane McCauly, event chair for Relay for Life of Floyd County. “Get out there with the public and have people recognize our survivors and what we do.”
The ACS employees and volunteers were joined by fraternities from Indiana University Southeast, children from Mt. Tabor School and cancer survivors.
She said she was hoping to have at least 100 people to walk with the float to hold 100 candles in light of the anniversary.
“A lot has happened in that 100 years, but we are not there yet because we haven’t cured cancer. But we are working on it,” McCauly said. “Our theme now is ‘Finish the fight.’ Within the next 100 years, hopefully we will be in business.”
The festive parade also included a scout troop from Graceland Baptist Church, along Kamer Miller Road in New Albany.
The scouts looked back in history to the Lewis and Clark expedition to design their float.
The float was fashioned to look like an outdoor fort being pulled by canoe, and it swarmed with young scouts anticipating the start of the parade.
“They get really excited about doing the parade,” said scout leader Wayne Garber. “They greatly enjoy doing this.”
The parade kicked off a week-long series of Harvest Homecoming events that will continue through Oct. 13.