For our second year in a row, we went to St. Pete’s (Florida) annual Festival of States parade held each year on a Thursday evening towards the beginning of April. In recent years it has been held the Thursday before the start of the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
The evening was delightful with temps in the 70s and breezy. The sky’s few clouds turned pink in the setting sun just before the parade reached us on Beach near Grayl’s Hotel. There was a really good turnout of oldsters and youngsters, dogs in strollers (yes, I said dogs), kids in strollers eating foot long corn dogs, and throngs of people in their beach chairs. Parents stood with their infants and toddlers at their first parade. A “first” memory to build upon as they come back year after year until the “little” ones are big enough to run out into the street to claim one of the mardi gras bead necklaces on their own.
Michael Andretti was the Grand Marshal with his racing team in cars following him including Danica Patrick (one of Jerry’s favorites). The Second Time Arounders (http://www.secondtimearounders.com/) band and drill team performed early in the parade (and in fact was the only band this year…I suspect a time of the economy). Fresh from their Macy Day Parade performance in 2008 the Second Time Arounders boast a rifle corps, baton twirlers, pompom drill team, flagsters, and of course the band…a huge band…there were at least 20 saxophones, 30 trumpets, 8 tubas, etc. etc. And they are good. And it always gives me a lump in my throat to watch them. I don’t know why. I guess because I’m kind of weird about marching bands in the first place and its thrilling to watch a band made up of people who so love band music that despite (or maybe because of) “advanced age” (heehee) they will march, practice, and perform to their hearts content.
Fireworks followed the parade. Parade goers meandered over to the park overlooking the marina and listened to the Second Time Arounders perform while waiting for and then watching the fireworks. Again…I love band music so thought it was a really good addition this year (although listening to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer played with tubas is a little scary). It was a delightful evening.