A mix of practice and fun while waiting for the parade

Posted 14 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – Children in the Albion Free Methodist Church play on the pirate ship. The kids chased each other around pretending to sword fight. The church had a float in the parade to promote its Vacation Bible School from July 28-Aug. 1.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

ALBION – Brad Shelp has the tough job lining up everyone for the Strawberry Festival Parade. It’s not a free-for-all, but instead a carefully coordinated and planned effort.

Shelp helped organize the first parade in the Strawberry Festival going back nearly three decades ago.

“I started at the beginning 28 years ago,” he said. “I took four years off, but now I’ve taken it back. It’s bigger than last year. I think it’ll be a good parade this year.”

Nine marching bands and about 50 floats were part of the 90-minute parade that starts at the elementary school on Route 31 and heads west to Route 98, turning north to the canal.

“I try to keep the music from overlapping each other,” Shelp said. “I usually go through it two or three times. You get your little dance groups that have music, too, so you want to keep them away from the bands.”

The Sandstone Park Midget League baseball team gets pumped to prepare for their place in the lineup.

Jenny McKenna, the NYS Guernsey Princess, was riding in a car for the parade. Guernseys are orange and white milking cows. She will be the princess for one year. This follows her reign as a former Niagara-Orleans Dairy Princess. She had brochures prepared to give to anyone who wanted to know more about the breed.

“We’re the only one in our area that have Guernseys,” McKenna said about her family farm in Barre. “We’re just trying to educate the public in our area about the Guernseys.”

Jeffrey Brown (strawberry) was there with his brother Harrison (the bear). They were joined by Carolyn Ricker (Waldo) of Bindings Bookstore for some chat time as people got organized.

Brown’s Berry Patch brought a 1929 Ford pickup that was restored by Bob Brown and his father Ralph.

“We’re here to celebrate the Strawberry Festival tradition,” said Margy Brown as she dressed Jeffrey in his costume.

Ricker, owner of Bindings Bookstore, dressed up in a Where’s Waldo costume to promote an event next month, when Waldo will be hiding in 25 Albion businesses. Children can earn coupons toward books and win prizes depending on the number of Waldos they find.

The Albion Marching Band led by drum major Brooke Chandler preps by marching around the high school’s loop and rehearsing. The white plumes on some of the hats mean the student is a senior this year.

Luann McMullen, who works with the banner holders and calls herself a band mom, explained the significance of today’s performance for the Albion Marching Band.

“Mr. Burlison has been a big part of the marching band,” McMullen said. “He was the Assistant Band Director.”

The students lost Mr. Wayne Burlison in March due to colon cancer. The students wore stickers that said “Mr. B” on them and some students had a teardrop painted on the corner of one eye.

“He was integral in coming up with the music, the arrangement of the music and the choreography. He’s been with a lot of these kids since they’ve been in the fourth and fifth grade.”

For their performance the students played “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Somebody to Love.” A quintet of students also had a moment in the performance where they presented roses to the drum majors. The theme revolves around love and the heart.

Jessica, Kerry and Eulalie Panek of Panek’s Pickin’ Patch watch the Pembroke Dragons Marching Band as they practice across the parking lot.

Vickie Randall, the Recreation Manager at the Arc of Orleans, was helping to arrange people in the float for the Self Advocates Program. Randall hopes the parade will raise awareness for the program because they rely on community support.

“Self advocates are independent people with disabilities who may need assistance along the way,” she said. “Because they are independent, they do their own fundraising for their own activities. They don’t receive funding from the Arc anymore because they are independent. They do car washes and they do a bottle drive at Albion Redemption Center.”

Local legend Dancing Derrick wears the Weed Man costume for another year and gets ready to dance in the parade. To prep for the festivities, he busts a move in the parking lot.

The Dansville White Sabers drum line practices in the parking lot by the Elementary School.

Jeremy Graham, assistant fire chief for Albion, dances for Rocky Sidari IV to keep him entertained. Rocky is the son of the Rocky Sidari, the fire chief.