by Jonathan Weaver
Pirates, superheroes and even a cast of characters from the timeless film and book series “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” made up an estimated-350 costumed Ford City residents during last night’s parade.
The annual parade was coordinated through the Ford City Lions and the Ford City Activities Committee, participating businesses and organizations.
While each person in costume received a gold dollar from the Ford City Lions, 10 cash prizes were given out as well. Two cash awards were given out to floats, three to large groups and five to small groups.
The top float –“Kids Castaways at Skull Mountain” – was made up of nine elementary students dressed up as pirates and their mothers.
Lenape Elementary Teacher Toni Taladay said the group has banded together for the past decade and have achieved other victories.
“We’ve been doing it for the past 11 years – each year the moms get together and we get an idea and go from there,” Taladay said. “We usually wait till the last minute though.
“(The students) have a good time.”
The group of many families has also marched in the parade as sea creatures, bed bugs, prisoners, cavemen, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dalmatians.
The winning large group was a series of cast members from the movie and book “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
Hannah MeGown dressed up as a box of Everlasting Gobstoppers while other members of the cast of 10 included the titular candyman, winning child Charlie Bucket, several candy bars and even an Oompa Looma.
All costumes were unique, utilizing househould materials: such as ribbon, cardboard boxes, and duct tape.
“Everything’s homemade.We don’t believe in store bought,” Hannah and Theresa MeGown said.
The family has won a cash prize eight years in a row – winning second prize only once.
They spent their $50 cash prize immediately following the parade.
“We’re on our way to Dairy Queen right now,” Theresa said.
The last costumed group in the parade included characters from the animated movie, “Shrek.”
Jennifer Montero painted her face to play the role of “Princess Fiona” with her boyfriend, Jim Swartz, as the titular character while both carried “Donkey” – two-year-old niece Tatum Milligan and pulled “Puss n Boots” – four-year-old nephew Greyson Milligan – in a wagon.
“They love Shrek. He wanted to be Puss n Boots for Halloween, so we kind-of came up with the rest of it then,” Montero said. “We put it all together today.”
Last year, the children dressed up as pirates.
Ford City Lions Chair Bill Oleksak said, even though this is the last year of Ford City High and the school’s marching band leading the parade, it will not be the last year of the parade.
“We’ll work something out. It was made to sound like a major problem, but I think we’re going to work something out,” Oleksak said.
Participants initially were led by Police Sgt. John Atherton before circling back onto 5th Avenue near Ford City Park
Sheriff Deputy Terry Bish, along with Ford City and Ford Cliff firefighters, also drove along the parade route
A complete list of winners include:
Kids Castaways at Skull Mountain-Alena Taladay, Ryleigh Pschirer, Rory Pschirer, Rowen Pschirer, Kendall Koch, Riley Koch, Lucy McFall, Will Andring, Autumn Dowling.
Second Place-Rx Fit Super Heroes Fighting to Promote Fitness Health: Jill Emberg, Kiera Wolfe, Matthew Wolfe, Brady Wolfe, Laney Wolfe, Hunter Wolfe, Kelly Check, Kevin Check, Kayla Check, Owen Check, Tank Jim Leighton Evan Leighton, Alyssa Layton, Josh Leighton, Ciara & Stevie Anthony, Leslie Chvala
Large Group Division
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory-Wade Megown, Teresa Megown,
Hannah Megown, Anthony Mcgown, Parker Mcgown, Lucas Savers, Jessica Atherton, Cade Atherton, Raymond Ballock, Pearl Ballock.
Witches and Warlocks-The Blendell family.
Third Place: Legos: Racheal, Tyler and Jen Elsesser.
Small Group Division
First Place: Mousetrap,Rat & Cheese-Darla Bureau, Damian & Austyn Blystone.
Second Place: Stink Bug & Orkin Man-Sidney & Wyatt Krukars.
Third Place: Pirate & Fairies- Tara, Logan, and Riley Bemish.
Fourth Place: Hangin High- Gigi & Marge Mantini.
Fifth Place: Bee & Bee Keeper -Anderson & Alexa Fabian.
First Place: Robot -Emma Stover.
Second Place: Lightning McQueen-Finnagan Beale.
Third Place: Cabbage Patch Doll -Calista Schauffhauser.
Fourth Place: Ice Cream Cone -Lily Petrie.
Fifth Place: Elsa -Gabby Dunmire.
Sixth Place: Pirate -Beau Anthony.
Seventh Place: Pirate -Aiden Wolfe.