OTTUMWA - Thousands of people sipped warm coffee and ate breakfast as they waited for the 42nd Annual Oktoberfest Parade to begin. Regardless of its temporary Church Street location, the parade remained an Ottumwa family tradition and continued to bring out the creativity in float builders and the joy in children as they worked to catch a variety of sweet snacks.
"The parade is a nice tradition for our family because it's just something different for us to do, to come out and watch the floats, and I really enjoy all of the bands," said Lorena Perez.
Perez explained that both she and her family not only attended the parade but also participated in it, representing a local Latino radio show. She said the new parade route was "great" because it allowed the family to seamlessly transition from throwing candy to catching candy on the sidelines.
No matter the year or the location, one thing remains the same: children love all the yummy candies and fun trinkets that come from the nearly 200 floats. Jenna Linsted, 6, reported that her new candy stash was her favorite thing about the Oktoberfest parade as she stood on the edge of Church Street, waving at everything from clowns to lions as they tossed candy for her to collect.
For those without a sweet tooth, the parade favorite is generally the nearly 20 marching bands that come from miles away to participate in the parade, which is also a sanctioned band competition.
Travis Henderson said that coming out for the Oktoberfest parade is a family tradition no matter where the location or how chilly the morning may have been. Henderson watched the parade with Red Riding Hood, otherwise known as his daughter, Isabelle Henderson, 8, who rode on Seton Catholic School's fairytale-themed float before coming to collect plenty of fun-sized candy bars.
"My favorite part of the parade has always been all the [marching] bands," said Henderson. "Even though the route this year is shorter, I don't mind. We still came out for the excitement."
However, the new parade route wasn't popular with those who held tradition close to their heart, such as Ottumwa High School student Madelyn Nelson, who reported she had always attended the Oktoberfest downtown, and throughout the years the event became a treasured family tradition.
"I kind of like the old parade route better because it's where it has always been and what I'm used to. It's really part of the the whole [Oktoberfest] tradition," said Nelson.
Saturday's Oktoberfest events ended with Starbound Karaoke, a DJ, and Sez Who rocking Jimmy Jones Shelter while children enjoyed the nearby carnival.
- Danielle Lunsford is a staff writer at the Ottumwa Courier and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org