Olympic star to be honored in Suffolk

Published 12:23 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ronald McDonald is sharing the spotlight as the grand marshal of this morning’s annual Peanut Fest parade with Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.

Merritt, a Suffolk resident and winner of two golds in track events at the Olympics in Beijing, and his mother, Brenda Merritt Stukes, will participate in the parade through downtown Suffolk.

The parade, which begins at 10 a.m., will travel from South Broad Street down West Washington Street to North Main Street before ending on Finney Avenue. There are approximately 80 units scheduled to participate in the parade, with the reviewing stand in the 100 block of North Main Street.

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Cheryl Tan of WAVY TV will be the moderator of this year’s parade.

Following the parade at noon, there will be a reception at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts where Mayor Linda T. Johnson and Suffolk City Council members will recognize Merritt’s achievements by presenting him with a key to the city.

Representatives of the area’s youth will also have the opportunity to meet the Olympic gold medalist at this event.

The parade, which was canceled last year, is a return to a long-time Peanut Fest tradition that dates back to 1941. Though the dumping of peanuts and elephants herding down Main are no longer present as they were years ago, families will crowd the streets in anticipation of bands, clowns and miniature motorcycles coming courtesy of the Shriners-Khedive Temple.