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Italian Festival parade, dancers entertain crowds

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

Despite 80-degree heat and high humidity, spectators lined the streets of downtown Clarksburg on Saturday for the 22nd annual West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival parade.

They weren't disappointed, as they listened to marching bands, waved at festival royalty and cheered for their favorite officials.

"I can't believe how many people are here," said Marilyn Trout of St. Albans. "It's my first time here and I'm having a great time."

Trout and her mother, Margurite McMillion, traveled here from the southern part of the state to participate in the festivities.

They were anxious to see the parade and had listened to the entertainment Friday evening at the various stages. The pair enjoyed the Italian atmosphere most of all, they said.

"It brings back wonderful memories of my tour of Europe," McMillion said.

For some onlookers, the festival is an annual occasion.

"I've been here all 22 years and I see a lot of friends from out of town that I don't normally get to see," said Louis DeMarco of Clarksburg.

He was visiting with friends during the event and came to see his daughter perform in the Robert C. Byrd High School marching band.

The parade route wasn't excessively long and those marching were grateful to get out of the heat, they said.

Ashley Carder, the head color guard at Bridgeport High School, was ready to kick off her marching boots and head for the shade. She enjoys the food at the festival and the evening atmosphere more than anything.

"I like the frittis and the steak and cheese hoagies," she said. "But I really like coming out at night because that's when everyone is here and you get to see your friends."

Other activities Saturday included musical and dance performances, a homemade wine contest and morra. Festival attendees crowded the streets and lined up for frozen drinks, Italian sausage sandwiches and pasta.

Buzz and Carol Floyd came from Las Vegas for the festival. Although they have family here and visit often, it was their first time frequenting the festival.

"Every year I say I'm going to go and this year I finally did," Buzz said. "We ran into some old friends at the airport in Las Vegas who were coming here for the festival too."

The celebration continues through today beginning with an 11 a.m. mass. Another major event today is a 3 p.m. concert featuring 1960s' rock-n-roll star Dion.

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1443.

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