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Parade kicks off 50th Three Rivers Festival

July 14, 2018

Sometimes you have to get up pretty early in the morning to secure a choice spot to catch the Three Rivers Festival Parade.

Mike Morrissey was downtown at 5:30 a.m. to set up chairs for him and his wife, Cathy. Four hours later, they sat : trying to stay out of the sun : near the corner of Maiden and Berry streets, waiting for the parade to begin.

“There were plenty of people here when I got here,” Mike said.

The Morrissey’s weren’t alone Saturday morning, as thousands lined the 2-mile Lutheran Health Network Parade route that stretched from Rockhill Street east to Calhoun Street and north to West Superior Street. Visit Fort Wayne estimates about 250,000 people attend the parade each year. 

The parade was the 50th since the festival kicked off its inaugural year in 1969. Many who attended said they come every year to what has become one of the festival’s signature events.

Cathy Morrissey said she and her husband have attended for at least 25 years.

“I like to support what goes on in downtown Fort Wayne,” she said.

The parade featured marching bands, Fort Wayne police officers, Allen County sheriff’s deputies and Sheriff David Gladieux, Purdue University’s Boilermaker Special, a mastodon balloon pulled along by Purdue Fort Wayne employees and politicians including U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks.

Local businesses, banks and nonprofits also were represented on floats and by marchers.

Some of the loudest applause was for veterans groups. Hundreds cheered as the Honor Flight Northeast Indiana float passed by Harrison and Berry streets, carrying veterans of World War II and the Korean War.

David Cornett sat with his son, Nicolas, 9, on Calhoun Street, across from the Allen County Courthouse.

David said he usually has to work on Saturdays but had the day off for the parade. He brought a blanket downtown Friday night to make sure he and his son had a place to watch.

“I just wanted him to enjoy the outdoors a little bit, the parade,” he said.

Nicolas, though, admitted he was more excited about the doughnuts he and his dad picked up from Cindy’s Diner nearby.

Jessica Goldsmith and John Chambers attended the parade for the second time as a couple. They also introduced a new generation to the event: their son, 3-month-old Jackson.

Goldsmith said she had family in the parade and thought it would be nice to make it a family outing. It had been awhile since she last attended, she said.

“When I was younger, we used to go,” she said.  

mleblanc@jg.net

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