Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Open for Business Parade, Sports, More Welcome Beach Lovers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Open for Business Parade, Sports, More Welcome Beach Lovers

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- There was no excuse for being bored at

the beach this weekend.

There were races and volleyball tournaments for athletes,

shoppers had a first-class art and crafts show to patronize,

music lovers had the chance to hear the Not Tonight I've Got the

Blues Band and others at the SeaWalk Pavilion and beach lovers

of all ages had a sandsculpture competition to gear up for.

The last piece of the puzzle was the 50th version of the parade

to mark the opening of the beach season.

"I love this parade. It's my favorite parade," 5-year-old Aimee

Garson said emphatically.

"This is the only parade she ever sees," her mother, Jan

Garson, added.

Like many people along the parade route, the Garsons said they

wouldn't miss this event.

While the parade was in its 50th year, there was at least one

suggestion for improving the event. Sheila Fennel, who was

hiding from the hot sun in a shady spot on First Street,

laughingly suggested holding the parade in February.

Her friend, Debbie Safford, of Arlington, was glad the parade

order was shuffled from years past. This year, many of the

floats and dance groups were put before the Shriners and car

clubs.

"There are too many Shriners, way too many. They're cute, but

there's just too many," Safford said. "After they've gone by

people think `well, that's it,' and you lose your crowd. Then

all of these groups who come after them, who have worked so hard

to be here, have a smaller crowd to parade for. . . . This is

much better this year."

The parade had all of its usual attractions: big men in little

cars, prankster clowns, brigades of roaring motorcycles, pretty

girls in convertibles, bathing-suit models atop boats and troops

of children who appeared fresh as they marched down Second

Street, but wilted before they concluded their journey on First

Street.

For Sue Kreichelt, who was viewing an Opening Day parade for

only the second time, the unintentional participants -- people

riding bikes or skating by -- were just as interesting as the

official parade. …

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