NILES - Sunshine broke through Saturday in time for the grand parade of the 39th annual Four Flags Apple Festival.
Hundreds of adults and children lined the street to watch as city officials, bands, floats, firetrucks and police officers on motorcycles passed by, with sirens blaring and candy being tossed to eager children.
A float carried the festival queen and her court, while another featured dancers and their dancing machine. Some kids pushed a pink recycling carton while wearing pink shirts that read, “Kick Cancer To The Curb,” as they threw candy to the crowd.
“I really like the bands and how good they played,” said T.J. Brown, 10, of Niles. “My sister got a little scared when the Haunted House car drove by, but I thought the parade was just great.”
Also attracting a lot of attention were many other events taking place at the festival. A pancake breakfast earlier in the day attracted hungry festival-goers, while others checked out the book sales and arts and crafts vendors.
Apples, the star attractions of the event, could be found in abundance, and everywhere you looked were apple dishes.
According to Pat Teeter, a festival board member, the first few days of the popular event were a little stormy.
“When we started on Thursday, the bad weather had things going pretty slow,” Teeter said. “We had some storm damage to our tents, but the sun finally can out and we are expecting more and more people to come out and support us. Years before, we have seen thousand of people come to the festival. Today is looking great, and we had a amazing turnout.”
There were 114 floats and units in this year’s parade. About 150 arts and craft booths were on hand for the festival, as well as food to suit everyone.
Members of New Apostolic Church in Niles passed out free popcorn and drinks to people along the parade route.
“Our church started right after 9/11, so we have been around for 10 years,” said Staci Reith, a church member. “We are here every year doing what we can to give back to the community. It’s a lovely day for a festival and parade.”
Everyone seemed to be enjoying the day, and many stood the entire time and gave each other some good-natured ribbing.
“It was fun,” said Sally Smith, of Niles. “I loved everything about the day. My kids and I look forward to coming every year. It’s awesome. What’s not to like about this?”
Staff writer May Lee Johnson: