Parade to be full of color
MILTON -- In years past, the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival Parade has usually featured one band, the nearby Cabell Midland High School Marching Knights.
This year, the parade has teamed up with the Marching Knights to spotlight a flood of fall color. The Sept. 22 parade will showcase 18 marching bands, all of whom are in the area for the annual band competition at Cabell Midland High School.
Mark Cooper, one of the festival parade organizers and a former CMHS band parent, said they're excited to team up with the Marching Knights to help put on what will be one of the most band-rich parades in the region.
Set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival Parade will host what is being called the WV Pumpkin Festival Harvest of Champions Parade Competition that will be a part of Midland's day-long competition.
"Cabell Midland Band approached us back in the spring and Tim James the new director said he had an idea to add a parade element to the band competition that they hold every year," Cooper said. "He asked us if there was a way to make it happen. The only way to do it was to move the parade from a Sunday to a Saturday."
"We're estimating at least 900 marching students and you've got to multiple that by how many parents and grandparents are coming to watch the parade, so it will be just a tremendous benefit to the region," Cooper said.
There will also be plenty of pre-parade excitement on the streets of Milton.
To kick off the morning, there will be a WV Pumpkin Fest 5K race that starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, at Milton Baptist Church, at 1123 Church St.
At 10:15 a.m., and right before the parade, there will also be The Milton Mile, a one-mile skateboard race on U.S. 60 sponsored by Marc Fuentes of Marc's Board Shop in Scott Depot.
All racers are recommended to park on the side street near the Rite Aid in downtown. Bring your street board to ride on the closed streets after the race and before the parade starts. After the parade, organizers will be skating the new Milton Skatepark.
"We could not have accomplished this without the backing and assistance from Mayor Tom Canterbury and the council and staff of the city of Milton," Cooper said. "There's really been great cooperation and we all agreed that this was a great way to increase our parade interest as well as give them (Cabell Midland) the parade competition they were lacking."
Along with this change comes the opportunity for vendors to supply refreshments and products along the parade route. Anyone interested in this opportunity should contact Milton City Hall at 304-743-3032 or www.wvmilton.com.
Cooper said all of Saturday's excitement of the parade helps build publicity and interest for the super-sized West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, which is set for Oct. 4-7 at West Virginia Pumpkin Park.
This year, the theme is "The Festival Salutes The Wall That Heals," as the festival will be the weekend home to the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall: The Healing Wall, which is set to arrive in Milton by escort on Oct. 2.
"The parade has become more important every year," Cooper said, "and the parade kind of keeps growing in relation to the pumpkins festivals' growth."
You can find out more about the parade, and the West Virginia Pumpkin Fest online at www.wvpumpkinpark.com.
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