Heat and high humidity didn’t keep marchers, float riders, clowns, bands and parade goers from turning out for a good time Friday evening at the Ilion Days Doo Dah Parade.
Parade goers came early and set up lawn chairs in shady areas along West Street and other portions of the parade route. Members of First Baptist Church in Ilion offered strawberry shortcake for sale to those waiting for the parade to get under way.
Then a police car, color guard and a line of fire trucks led the way down the street followed by a series of floats and bands and the parade was on. Children scrambled to retrieve the candy tossed by some of the marchers and bystanders reacted to sprays of water sent their way from a couple of the parade vehicles. Given the temperatures, many of those lining the parade route didn’t appear to mind.
Many children also went home with a beach ball, courtesy of Remington Federal Credit Union. Marchers took the balls from a float and passed them out to children along the parade route.
“We love the Doo Dah Parade,” commented Robbi Breit, who said she had a “perfect view” from her shop, New 2 You Consignments in Ilion’s Central Plaza. “My son loves the parade,” she said, adding that after watching this year’s parade, she had to hurry to Herkimer to watch her daughter perform in the musical, “Legally Blonde.”
This year marks the 27th annual Doo Dah Parade. Robert Dreizler, who died in April in Arizona at the age of 87, and his wife Ann brought the idea of the Doo Dah Parade to Ilion after seeing a Doo Dah parade when they lived in California. When they retired in 1985 and moved to Ilion, they suggested trying it here.
Following the parade, many parade-goers headed for Central Plaza to purchase food and other items from vendors and hear music provided by Johnson and Company.
A thunderstorm interrupted the evening’s festivities. High winds and heavy rain moved into the area before 9 p.m. and those still on site scrambled to take cover. Many people had already left when the storm struck, according to committee member Bettyjean Postiglione, but the band was still playing and the wind created havoc with the vendors’ tents. Committee member Norma Smith said she had to be driven to her car so she could hurry home to check her basement windows, which she had left open in an effort to dry out her basement following the recent floods.
There were some clouds Saturday morning, but the rain held off for the Ilion Mutt Dog Show and the craft show in Central Plaza.
Nearly two dozen dogs of all shapes and sizes were paraded before a panel of judges and awarded trophies and prizes in various categories.
Page 2 of 2 - Organizer Jessica Arsenault-Rivenburg said this year marks the seventh annual Mutt Show. The cost to enter was a donation of either cash or supplies to the Herkimer County Humane Society. There was a good turnout this year, she said, with more participants than in the past couple of years.
Among the spectators was Betty Brown, of Ilion, who said she used to bring her dog to participate in the show, said the show was excellent. “They do a very good job. It’s good to see all the people come out and support it and it’s nice to see all the young kids involved.”
The show also made her think about adopting another dog. “I may have to visit the Humane Society,” she said. “I’d like to get a rescue dog.”
After the dog show, some of the participants wandered over to check out the craft show.
Marianna Tomasino, of Cobleskill, set up her Not the Usual booth with handmade jewelry and shadowboxes. “The shadowboxes all tell a story,” she said, adding that some include social commentary. Tomasino said she makes items that are “not something you can find in JC Penney.”
Harron James, a counselor at the Educational Opportunity Center at Mohawk Valley Community College, offered brochures and information about courses, support services and opportunities available to first-generation or low-income residents who are interested in returning to school. There are workshops available to help returning students brush up on or gain skills they need to succeed in college, he said.
Staff members from Slocum-Dickson Medical Group offered free screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose levels and bone density in the gazebo and said new patients are being accepted.
In addition to a full day of activities Saturday, Ilion Days concluded with a Classic Car show and Ducky Race on Sunday.