By ROBERT CONNELLY
Young Gianna Hazlett was jumping up and down after the Austintown Fourth of July parade, wearing Avon lipstick she had caught from a float. She was with her aunt, Julie Hazlett, and grandmother, Mary Hazlett, along the route at South Raccoon and New roads, close to the start of the township’s 38th annual parade Friday afternoon.
Her favorite float was “Jared’s float!” Her relatives, Jared and Michael Bosley, were on a float for a children’s rock choir aimed at kids with cancer. “I really wanted to come to this. I will come back to this one, even if [Jared] isn’t in it,” Mary Hazlett said.
The family is from Struthers and usually attends the parade there, but having family members in the Austintown parade brought the family here Friday afternoon.
“The whole thing was great...it was nice,” Mary Hazlett said, adding her favorites were the antique cars and go-karts.
Many people lined the streets, some with tents and chairs, while others preferred to stand and see what was coming next in the line of 150 units in the parade, floats and groups of people registered. Chris Lewis, chairman of the Austintown Fourth of July parade, said this year’s theme was “Austintoon,” a play on the township’s name and focusing on cartoons.
He said three floats would be competing for best float during the judges’ vote today. The top three finishers for best float receive cash prizes.
Those were: Girl Scout Troop 99’s, depicting a functional mechanical claw from the movie Toy Story; West Side Tire’s Flintstones float with rotating tires; and Impact Church’s depiction of How To Train Your Dragon, with a black dragon suspended above a music performance.
There was no grand marshal for the parade this year. Lewis said, It is “One of those things where you don’t have to have someone to honor...it’s not a necessity.”
Lewis was quick to thank Austintown Rotary and Lions clubs for their volunteer hours on parade work.
Patriotic shirts could be seen throughout the parade route and American flags lined the light poles along South Raccoon Road. The floats represented area businesses, Austintown schools, area sports leagues and area politicians.
A towing company represented in the parade had its cable tied to the truck with an American flag flying as the car made its way through the route.
The route was from South Raccoon at New, turning onto Kirk Road and ending on Falcon Drive on the Austintown schools campus.
Larry Jensen, parade announcer and a member of Austintown Lions Club, said, “Last year was really hot; the year before it rained like crazy. The main thing I heard from people was the breeze kept it cool.”
Township Trustee Jim Davis said, “Normally, we ride in that parade and it’s normally a sweltering heat and it takes its toll on some of the veterans and the more elderly [attendees], so it was nice today because everyone was able to enjoy it.”
The parade ended at about 3:20 p.m., with many residents quickly leaving to continue holiday celebrations.
Mike Ciolli and Angel Ricciolli were standing along New Road for the festivities, with Ricciolli holding their 9-month old child, Ave, and cheering on their 7-year old daughter, Ella.
“This year getting to see my daughter in the parade,” Ciolli said.
He added they recently moved to Niles, but came back to see this year’s parade with Ella on the float with the members of the Austintown Girls Softball League. While the couple was worried about noises with their 9-month old, Ciolli said, “it worked out pretty well.”
Davis said, “Its so much fun to ride in that parade and see all the kids...little kids dressed up in all the different outfits — the red, white and blue.”