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Crowds make Festival of States parade a thumping success

Downtown St. Petersburg streets resound with tubas and drums as dozens of bands and floats pass by.

By JULIANNE WU, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Corinne and Frank Mahoney arrived downtown three hours before the start of Saturday's 82nd annual Festival of States Parade.

"We've been coming to this parade for seven years and we like everything about it, especially the Second Time Arounders (band)" said Mrs. Mahoney, 60, of St. Petersburg. "This is our first time bringing a beach umbrella, though. Last year, we suffered in the sun."

The Mahoneys were among the thousands who enjoyed the sunshine and gentle breezes as they gathered along Central Avenue and Bayshore Drive for the annual parade.

Near the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, Jay Morecraft of Holiday was holding his 1-year-old son, Jake, on his lap. "This is our first time at this parade," said Morecraft, 35, who had walked over from his 48-foot Yacht Never Enough with his wife, Cindi, and their son Daric, 8. They were with friends from Indiana.

Jake, along with his dad, waved a miniature American flag.

The parade featured more than 90 units. Among the most popular were the 450-member Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Band, whose members range from 19 years old to the mid 90s and played in their high school or college bands, and the Indianapolis Motorcycle Police Drill Team. Several high school bands, floats and krewes gave out candy and beads.

Festival of States Parade committee member John Biesinger has worked on the parade for a decade and described the crowd as "above average from other years."

As the last unit rounded the corner by the Vinoy, paradegoers walked toward Vinoy Park. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and his wife, Joyce, and members of the City Council sang Happy Birthday to St. Petersburg while the Second Time Arounders played. People sampled slices from one of four 4- by 8-foot cakes. The celebration was a tribute to the centennial of St. Petersburg and tricentennial of St. Petersburg, Russia.

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