Tuesday, April 03, 2001

Parade draws 100,000

By Howard Wilkinson and Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Marge Schott blows the horn on a fire engine to start the annual Findlay Market Opening Day Parade.
(AP photo)
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        Cincinnati's unique holiday — Opening Day - kicked off Monday morning with an event nearly as important as the game itself — the 82nd Findlay Market Parade.

        Three hours before the first pitch in the game between the Reds and the Braves, the 150-plus unit parade began marching down Race Street in Over-the-Rhine, past Fountain Square and down to the Taft Theater on Fifth Street.

        An estimated 100,000 people - two-and-a-half times as many as can fit in the new refurbished Cinergy Field — to line the route of the parade, which featured former Bengal player Anthony Munoz as the grand marshal.

        Rob Mirus had the best seat at the parade, inside the vacant lot at Fourth and Race streets, perched atop the hydraulic arm of a truck used to bore holes in the ground for light poles in the new parking lot.

        The crowd was three deep in some spots along Race Street. Khadijah Daniels watched by accident. Ms. Daniels was trying to cross Race Street with her two children when she was cut off by the parade.

B&B Riverboats float glides down Fifth Street.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        It was Mr. Mirus' first parade. “I'm usually working,” he said.

        “I'm supposed to meet my landlord to look at a new apartment,” the 23-year-old Westwood woman said. “But the parade is nice.”

        Shawn Franklin has been watching Opening Day parades for 10 years. The New Vernon, Ind., man said this year was the best yet, then promptly reconsidered when two camels from the Cincinnati Zoo passed by a little too close.

        “We were doing pretty good until that,” he said.

        The camels were fine for 7-year-old Whitney Lonnemann of Mariemont. So were the police motorcycles and the Elvis impersonator.

City councilman Jim Tarbell pays tribute to longtime vendor "Peanut Jim" Shelton by dressing like him and pushing a cart.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        Whitney shrieked when “The King” walked by and said: “Hey, baby.”

        “That was cool,” Whitney said.

        As the Reds were preparing to open the 2001 season in a new old ballpark, the 1869 Red Stockings marched in the parade. David Brooks, 57, of Oxford, said the team will play more than 20 games this year in their throwback, cotton uniforms. The team plays in the Vintage Base Ball Association.

        Mr. Brooks, a pitcher on the team, said the uniforms are fun but the baseball is more fun.

        “When I saw the team play last year, I thought: That's for me,” Mr. Brooks said. “I want to play baseball until I die.”

        Marching in the parade wasn't bad, either.

        “It's a lot of fun,” Mr. Brooks said. “We've been doing it for 15 years.”

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