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Apple Harvest Festival parade rolls through Martinsburg

November 30, 1999|By CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? It was a grand day for a parade. Especially for the dozens of friends, family members and, possibly, complete strangers gathered on the sunny front lawn of Randy Wallen.

Every year for the past 20 years, Wallen throws a party on the day of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival parade, which was Saturday afternoon in Martinsburg.

Living in a King Street house near the beginning of the parade route, Wallen no longer has to extend invitations. People know to come over, including a friend with whom Wallen grew up.

"We see each other once a year ? right here," Wallen said.

About 50 people usually turn out for the party, which features soup and chili that Wallen's mother begins making about a week before the parade.

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"We have people that come and we don't even know them," Wallen said. "They come in, get something to eat and before you know it, we know them."

No alcohol is provided, but food is abundant, and Wallen quickly extended an offer to a stranger.

"You hungry?" he asked.

Waiting for the parade to begin, Wallen said his son, Bradley, 12, especially enjoy the street vendors. Vendors already had enticed Bradley to buy three hats, a plastic horn, two toy guns and cotton candy.

"Oh, and don't forget the Chihuahua," someone added.

It was a toy Chihuahua ? the kind that does not pee on the floor, Wallen said.

Further down King Street, Virginia Butts also was having a gathering.

One of the people in attendance was Imogene Canby, who had requested and was given a cup of fresh coffee. It was somewhat chilly on the house's shaded front porch.

"Every year, we sit on her porch, and she treats us afterward," Canby said of her hostess, saying the post-party offerings include ham sandwiches and other food.

Butts said she has been inviting neighbors, family and friends to her house for the parade for years.

"The more, the happier," she said. "When the parade's over, we have a feast."

Butts' brother-in-law, Bruce Stilwell, joked that they still might be there, given the number of exhibits in the parade.

"One hundred eighty units," Stilwell said. "We're going to be here tomorrow."

On Martin Street, Warren Kelso was eating a bowl of his wife's specialty, homemade chicken noodle soup, as he and family and friends watched the parade roll past.

"It's the perfect place to watch it," Kelso said. "It comes right down the street, so you can't beat it. You don't have to drive anywhere."

Kelso said he and his wife, Gwen Kelso, have been hosting an Apple Harvest Festival parade party for several years. Apple cider complements the soup, and Kelso said he usually sneaks a beer to a friend who marches in the parade every year.

The parade itself is nice, he said.

"I like the old cars. The kids love the marching bands. The firetrucks are a little loud," Kelso said, his only minor complaint. "It reverberates, echoes, through here, so it multiplies it."

The parade itself came with all of the typical trappings ? floats, marching bands, cheerleaders, pageant queens, antique cars, horses, emergency vehicles, motorcycles and politicians.

Near the beginning of the parade, a group of people openly supporting congressional candidate Mike Callaghan chanted, "No more Capito, Capito's gotta go," referring to U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, whom Callaghan is trying to unseat.

Marching in the parade, Capito waved to the group as she walked past, then shrugged her shoulders to a group of her supporters applauding nearby.

"At least it rhymes," Capito said.

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