Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parade Goes on - Wet, but Still Wild; Rain Keeps Some Away, but Participants and Spectators Make the Most of It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parade Goes on - Wet, but Still Wild; Rain Keeps Some Away, but Participants and Spectators Make the Most of It

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

It rained on the Beaches parade Sunday.

Thunderstorms blew through Jacksonville Beach prior to the 64th annual event.

But most participants lined up anyway, confused about the weather but ready to go.

And diehard spectators huddled under porches and umbrellas as they waited for the traditional opening of the Beaches event to begin.

"I love the parade," said Amanda Overman of Jacksonville. "The weather is horrible, but the show must go on."

"I'm sure the rain's kept a lot of people away," said Susan Ruz of the West Beaches, who'd dressed her 4-year-old twins, Ricardo and Pedro, and her 3-year-old son, Sebastian, in raincoats. They had an entire stretch of curb to themselves as they huddled in beach chairs at First Street and First Avenue North, an area usually packed with people.

"As long as the lightning doesn't get too close, we'll wait it out," Ruz said.

They didn't have to wait long. The event kicked off 15 minutes after the scheduled 2 p.m. start after organizers decided the weather had cleared enough to be safe.

By then some participants had left, but those who stayed paraded with enthusiasm.

Dancing school students sashayed down the street and performed gymnastic stunts. Beauty queens waved from the backs of open convertibles. People of all ages on floats waved to cheering spectators.

The Fernandina Beach Pirates marched on foot without their traditional pirate ship float that usually brings up the rear with booming cannons. They left the ship at home "because of the lightning," pirate Kelley McCrimmon said. "With three metal masts and gunpowder, there were safety issues."

Fortunately, the skies stayed dry during the entire parade, which was shorter than usual.

Parade coordinator Cindy Van Zant estimated 50 of the 93 scheduled entries participated.

"Some didn't even come at all because of the weather," she said. …

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