Austintown parade draws thousands

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Austintown Township 4th of July parade is 2 miles long, with more than 150 entries rolling, walking and marching down the parade route on Friday.

The 39th annual parade drew nearly 10,000 people along the Raccoon Road parade route.

It is something parade chairman Chris Lewis has thrived on for the past 14 years.

“It’s actually magical to watch,” Lewis said.

But behind all the floats, the bands, and the people waving, there is a lot of work that goes into the parade.

“People don’t realize there is an order to a parade. It is not just putting a bunch of people in a line. It’s got to be followed to a ‘t’,” Lewis said.

In Austintown, there also is a lot of planning by the parade watchers when it comes to where they sit.

At 11 a.m., three hours before the parade kicked off, there already were tons of chairs set up near the grandstand and all the way down Raccoon Road.

Margaret Grace of Boardman was camped out at her spot well before noon. It was her first year coming to the parade early, and she was thrilled to get a front row seat.

“I have never seen this before. Now maybe I just never get to parades early. I think I usually go later when I go. But I have never seen so many chairs and I was amazed,” Grace said.

Most of the front row seats already were taken by 11 a.m.

“I love the parade and I think this is going to be the best place to sit and enjoy it,” Grace said.

She came with her friends, Ron and Diane. They are pros at this and come out early every year, prepared for a wait.

“Always bring your own water. We drink plenty of water,” Ron Williams of Austintown said.

Across the street, Trudy Davis was heading up the Girl Scout’s float. It has been a long week.

“Building. Painting. Cutting. Making signs,” Davis said.

But it is something they have done for 13 years with great success.

“We love it. And we win,” Davis said.

As the parade stepped off about 2 p.m. Friday, Lewis already was getting ready for next year.

“Making adjustments as the parade is happening. Getting ideas for making it go smoother, easier for next year,” Lewis said.

The 2-mile parade is one of the longest Independence Day parades in the Valley.

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