Dum Dums at the parade

On the side

GOP training session: The Mahoning County Republican Party will have a volunteer orientation and training session on Wednesday at party headquarters, 621 Boardman-Canfield Road in Boardman. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the program will start at 7 p.m.

Lisbon office: A campaign office for Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, and “Republican Victory operations,” will open at 4:30 p.m. today in Lisbon at 124 W. Lincoln Way. This news merited an email from the Republican National Committee even though that’s the headquarters of the Columbiana County Republican Party. U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, and other elected officials and GOP candidates will be at the event.

Voter registration: OCCHA Inc. is having a voter registration drive at its office at 3660 Shirley Road in Youngstown from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Bilingual Spanish/English registration assistance is available.

Yes, I went to the Austintown Fourth of July Parade. Yes, I got a lot of candy. And, yes, that’s what this column is about.

I have to give the people what they want. (People I don’t know approach me and mention my parade columns.)

The Austintown parade is a tradition for my family. We’ve never missed it since we moved here in 1995.

It’s either really hot or it rains, so wet politicians are the norm at the parade.

There’s so much to see at the parade. We watched as various items, including a plastic water bottle, was slowly crushed by the tire of a truck, spraying water all over the street.

To me, the best part of the parade is candy. Yeah, there’s usually bad candy — mostly butterscotch, Peppermint Starlights, root-beer barrels and certain disgusting-flavored Dum Dum Pops — but much of it is pretty good.

How can you go wrong with Tootsie Rolls?

For some reason, politicians enjoy throwing candy at me. I don’t know why. I’m a relatively harmless reporter.

The Austintown trustees always seem to have something planned. Last year was a big success for them. They threw what felt and looked like thousands of mini-Tootsie Rolls at me. My entire family was hit in the candy drive-by.

This parade they decided to take a different approach. Trustee Jim Davis jumped off of their float/truck with an opened bag of a 760-count mini-Tootsie Rolls and headed my way. The plan was to dump the bag, which was half-full, over my head.

I was able to not only quickly grab the bag and close the opened end, but I took it out of Davis’ hands without even one mini hitting the ground. The candy was intended for me so I kept it and ate some during the rest of the hour-long parade.

I fear a bit for my town if the trustees can’t handle something as simple as dumping candy on me.

Next up was state Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry, who was handing out Twizzlers, a family favorite. He gave me three. I said, “Three? That’s it?” He said that three was a lucky number. My lucky number is 50.

Judge Mary DeGenaro of the 7th District Court of Appeals, who knows of my love of Tootsie Rolls, grab two big handfuls and gave them to me, telling my daughters, “These are for your dad.”

Mahoning County Court Judge Diane Vettori gave me a gift basket filled with large boxes of candy, including Zours, a favorite of Logan, my 15-year-old daughter. Logan wanted me to tell the judge, “She gave out the best candy.”

The most amusing moment was toward the end of the parade. County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras was sitting in a car when he spotted me. He was going to throw candy at me, but there was a police officer nearby. This caused Betras to pause and complain about my proximity to the officer.

The next thing I saw was Betras somehow getting out of the car, which looked very awkward, and running over to give me Dum Dum Pops.

They’re a parade staple, but pretty close to the bottom of the candy food chain. All that effort to give me handfuls of candy I typically don’t bother to bend down and get when they’re on my foot.

So Betras gets an A+ for effort and a C+ for candy selection.

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