Parade paints Humboldt red
Kearra Jackson stood in a chair Friday twisting to the rhythm of the beating
drums approaching on
The 2-year-old was clearly having a good time at the 69th annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival Grand Floats Parade. She kept mom Donna Turner on her toes as she frequently tried to climb out of the chair to get closer to the street.
"She really enjoys the bands," Turner said of her daughter. "She's never been to a parade before. This is her first one."
Lots of parade entries, a larger than normal attendance and sunny skies with frequent cool breezes combined for a berry good event.
Ladies had to hold on to their red hats during some of those frequent breezes as they rode on a float promoting a Red Hatters Club.
Children could be seen along the parade route hugging costumed characters such as a tall, slender dairy cow wearing a pink dress. The cow was promoting a new business.
A sign at City Drug declared: "We have Strawberry everything. Welcome to Humboldt."
The parade highlights the week-long festival, which organizers have said draws 100,000 people to this city of nearly 10,000 residents.
The parade itself usually attracts an estimated 10,000 people, but organizers and those attending Friday's parade remarked how large the crowd seemed this year.
"It was a huge crowd, probably 35,000, 40,000 people," Festival General Chairman Georgann McFarland said. It was "one of the largest crowds we've had in a while, plus the Lord blessed us with great weather.
"So, that made it that much better," McFarland said.
The days leading up to the big event had been just as good, Festival President Michael Longmire said.
"It's been an outstanding week," Longmire added. "The weather has been great. Everything fell right in place like it always has. Many, many thanks to all the committee people and volunteers who make this what it is."
Friday marked the 69th time for waving beauty queens, marching bands and berry-themed floats.
Or as this year's slogan says in part: "... 69 Years of Berry Good Times."
Onlookers among the sea of faces stretching the one-mile length of the parade route ranged from those who'd never missed a berry fest parade to those such as Kearra Jackson, who were seeing it for the berry first time.
Former Gov. Ned McWherter headed the parade as its grand marshal. He has never missed a parade.
Bradford High School teacher Jenifer Moore was attending for the first time since she was a teen participant.
"It's nice to see it in a different light," Moore said.
Her children, Mason Moore, 10, Anne-Ashton Moore, 7, and Dillan Moore, 13, were attending for the first time.
"It's real cool," Mason said. "I like how they put together their floats and stuff."
Two older men, W.G. Currie, of Jackson, and Ted Jones Sr. watched the event from chairs on the back of a pickup truck at 1673 Main St.
"This man is Mr. Parade," Currie said, pointing to Jones at his right.
Jones said the residence used to be his parents' and that the present owners still let his family set up there to watch the parade each year. His family owns Humboldt's Jones Companies LTD.
Jones waited Friday to see his grandsons, Mason and Fort Jones, who rode bicycles in the parade.
"I've just been coming for a long time and enjoying it with my family," Jones said of the event. "You get to see a lot of people that you've known for years. It's just a good advertisement for Humboldt."
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- Tonya Smith-King, 425-9680
Originally published May 13, 2006
The Jackson Sun - jacksonsun.com