Who doesn’t love a July 4th parade?

On the side

Ballot challenge: On the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the Mahoning County Board of Elections is a protest hearing concerning the eligibility of two independent candidates for Youngstown mayor on the November general election ballot.

The person filing the protest is Cecil Monroe, who withdrew as an independent candidate for that same seat in late May before the elections board could vote to disqualify him. Monroe was to be kicked off the ballot because he voted in the Democratic primary May 7, the day before he filed petitions to run as an independent. That’s an automatic DQ in Ohio.

Monroe filed a protest trying to get retired Police Chief Jimmy Hughes and DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary, off the ballot as independents. There’s no doubt the two are Democrats, having run under the party banner before, but neither voted in the May Democratic primary or held positions in the Democratic Party when they filed for mayor.

As is my family’s tradition since we moved here in 1995, we attended this year’s annual Austintown Fourth of July Parade.

If you don’t want to read about the parade, you’ve been warned and can stop now.

For those who enjoy reading about my family’s annual adventure at the parade, please continue.

We’ve attended when it was so hot the candy thrown our direction melted in mid-flight. We’ve attended in the pouring rain, eating wet candy.

It rained lightly before it started, but stopped just as a couple of renegade vehicles for an Austintown Township trustee candidate started driving down the route before the parade officially began.

My family’s parade location is known among politicians — primarily because I disclose it in a column just before the event and it hasn’t changed in 14 years.

One of the parade’s traditions is to throw candy at those in attendance.

My love for candy isn’t a secret and over the years I’ve urged those handing/throwing candy to up the quality of the product.

There are still plenty of Dum Dum Pops — I received an angry letter last year from a guy for criticizing Dum Dums because they’re made in Ohio, but many of their nontraditional flavors are awful — and Peppermint Starlights at the parade. But we’re making some progress.

The township’s trustees and fiscal officer enjoy throwing a lot of candy at me. Trustee Jim Davis really seems to like it.

Last year, he jumped off the float/truck and tried to dump a half-full bag of 760-count mini-Tootsie Rolls on my head. I snatched the bag away from him before he had the chance.

This year, the plan was for everyone to throw a bucket each of mini-Tootsie Rolls at me, but they didn’t see me until it was too late for that.

But Davis impressed me with his quick thinking. He took a huge handful and threw them in my direction. The people around me, including my wife and 16-year-old daughter, bent down to pick them up. I hesitated for some reason.

The next thing I know, Davis has a bucket in his hand and throws its contents, probably 1,000 minis, in my direction. I’d never seen anything like it. It looked like it was raining Tootsie Rolls. I took a few off my chest, but my wife, daughter and dozens of kids around me were pelted in the head and everywhere else.

The 20 or so kids around us and my family spent several minutes picking up the candy, but got so tired that there were about 50 of them lying at our feet, getting stepped on and sticking to the pavement from the heat.

Fiscal Officer Laura Wolff had a special bag with my candy favorites that she left at The Vindicator office for me when I arrived the next day. Candy graft?

The most creative effort to garner my favor and a mention in this column came from the Mahoning County Republican Party. Not only did they have a special bag of candy for me, but they made paper fans with my picture that read: “Mah. Co. GOP is a FAN of Skolnik as long as he gives us a great review!”

I don’t know if they made dozens of them or just the two they gave me. They get points for originality, but, yeah, they misspelled my name.

There’s always next year.

I’m always amazed at what Raccoon Road looks like after the parade with the street covered in wrappers, other garbage and crushed candy. This year was worse than others. It looked like a post-apocalyptic version of Candy Land with the remains of Mr. Mint, Princess Lolly and King Kandy all over the pavement.

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