Parade sets Peanut Fest tone

Published 10:50 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So, I guess this Peanut Fest thing really is a big deal.

That might sound like an understatement, but being new to Suffolk, I had no idea how important the festival is to this city.

I got my first dose of it standing alongside hundreds of people Saturday at the Peanut Fest parade.

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After arriving in downtown early to attend the Peanut Fest 5K, I thought I would have plenty of time to get to our office before the parade started.

But when I started down Main Street a few minutes before 9 a.m., my journey was cut short when I reached Finney Avenue to find the road blocked.

I thought I surely would be able to get around the blocked route easily, but no luck.

After 30 minutes of driving around with no success, I thought “What the heck; I’ll watch the parade!”

With my camera in tow, I planted myself on a curb near the end of the parade at Finney Avenue and waited.

The family sitting next to me was much more experienced in Peanut Festivities than I am. The wife was born in the Cypress area, and the husband moved to Whaleyville when he was still in elementary school. They now live in Holland – they are Suffolkians through and through.

They said they had lost count of how many Peanut Fests they had attended, and the husband was a downright expert on the festival and its parade.

He recognized most of the people in the parade and knew exactly what was different from the previous years. He even explained some of the entries to me, such as Mr. CIAA, who quickly changes outfits throughout the entire parade route.

The parade was a thrill for me, especially because I wasn’t expecting to be able to watch it.

One of the things I loved most was how involved teenagers and children are in the parade. I can’t imagine how thrilled some of those kids are to be riding along, waving to their crowds.

Also, the Shriners were a delight to watch, and from what the man next to me said, they are always the best part of the parade.

It was nice to see so many people out for the parade, excited about the upcoming Peanut Festival.

For me, the parade definitely served its purpose and got me more energized for the main event.

At the Queen’s Luncheon, Mayor Linda T. Johnson said that Peanut Fest is part of “who we are.”

After watching the parade, I realized what she meant. Suffolk Peanut Festival is not only a celebration of the city’s history, but it is also distinctly unique to Suffolk, and I think it’s something everyone can and should come out and enjoy.