The parking lot of Spartan Stadium in Portsmouth was packed with plenty of parade participants early Saturday morning, just waiting for the 2008 Portsmouth River Days Parade to begin.
The is the 46th year celebrating Portsmouth River Days, according to Portsmouth River Days, Inc., President and General Chairman Tim Angel.
"There's well over 300 units in the parade," Angel said, pointing out a unit could be something like a band, with 25 or 30 people. "I would not even hazard to guess how many people were in the parade."
As is tradition, River Days queens' parade floats were judged at the stadium before the parade began, Angel said. East was awarded Judges Choice Award, and in the Homemade Floats category, Wheelersburg placed first, with Minford in second, New Boston third and South Webster fourth. In the Commercial Floats category, judges selected Green.
Also, judges picked Southern Ohio Medical Center as the best community float, with Union Township Volunteer Fire Department second and Habitat for Humanity third.
The parade began at 11 a.m., departing the stadium parking lot and traveling west on Jackson Avenue, then north on Offnere Street, then west again on Gallia Street and finally north on Gay Street before ending at Tracy Park. The total parade lasted nearly three hours from the time the first group stepped off the stadium parking lot, until the last person finally reached the park.
All along the parade route, people sat in lawn chairs, truck beds, beach towels and street curbs waiting for the parade to come past. Eight-year old Britni said she was anxious to get some candy, but said she hoped the James Dickey Post cannon wouldn't be so loud this year.
"One year, it was so loud ... it scared me and I spilled my pop on my new school jeans, and my mom got mad at me," she said with a mouthful of potato chips.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time as the rain held back long enough for the parade to pass through downtown.
"The day's gone so far so good. I mean, it's going to be a long day with the rest of the events tonight," Angel said on Saturday.
Those events he was referring to include live music at the Portsmouth River Days Saturday from The Two Dons, Lone Raven, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Also on Saturday was the 45th annual River Days pageant. Angel pointed out the festival, which is in its 46th year, did not have the pageant in its first year.
The pageant began Saturday afternoon at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. Twelve candidates from local schools were participating in this year's queen pageant. The show ran beyond press time Saturday night, and no paper will printed Monday due to the holiday