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Big parade at core of Apple Harvest Festival

October 21, 2000

Big parade at core of Apple Harvest Festival



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - When John Small coordinated the first Apple Harvest Grand Feature Parade 21 years ago it had fewer than 100 marching units.

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Small, county clerk for Berkeley County and parade chairman since the festival started, stood on the reviewing stand at the intersection of King and Queen streets Saturday afternoon and observed the passing procession.

"This year we have 285 marching units," he said.

The route, which covered more than three miles of downtown Martinsburg streets from the intersection of King Street and Illinois Avenue to Martinsburg High School, was crowded with onlookers along both sides, Small said. He had no estimate of the number of people who turned out, but he knew the day was a success.

"We have 20 more units than we had last year," Small said.

The weather helped. Some in the crowd thanked grand marshal and Washington television weatherman Doug Hill for the perfect day as he passed by in an open convertible.

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Hill drew appreciative rounds of applause, but no whoops from the crowd like former Baltimore Orioles third base great Brooks Robinson the parade's celebrity sports grand marshal, did when his convertible drove by.

The Martinsburg High School Marching Band was the first band to pass the reviewing stand as it led the first division with a rousing "76 Trombones," the signature tune from Meredith Willson's Broadway hit "The Music Man."

More convertibles passed the stand carrying local politicians along with various pageant queens until a big float showed up carrying Rebecca Ann Orr, Queen Pomona XXI, and her court. Orr was coronated by West Virginia Agriculture Secretary Gus Douglas at a ceremony Friday night at the Apollo Civic Theater.

The afternoon's activities appeared to be too much for one little beauty queen on the float carrying the Winchester/Frederick County, Va., Beauty Pageant Winners. She was sprawled across her seat in front of the float sound asleep as it passed the reviewing stand.

Another float carried a proud Michelle Staubbs. Her apple pie won the grand prize in the apple pie baking contest.

Democratic State Sen. John Unger, who is not running for re-election this year, rode by in his own float.

The Clear Spring High School blazer Band made its 21st appearance in the Apple Harvest parade Saturday.

On a somber note, vehicles carrying representatives of the Berkeley County Combined Veterans stopped in front of the stand. One of their vehicles displayed the name of the USS Cole, the Navy destroyer in which 17 sailors, including two from Washington County were killed in an Oct. 12 terrorist bombing. The veterans, many of them older, stood at attention in full salute as "Taps" was played.

The display of respect drew muted applause from the crowd.

As the parade continued more than a dozen farm wagons with children sitting on hay bails passed by the stand representing Boy and Girl Scout troops, Cub Scouts, church and other youth groups.

The Paw Paw, W.Va., High School Marching Band also showed up. The band from a small school district in western Morgan County had members from grades 7-12 marching, one of its directors said.

Other festival highlights Saturday were the annual Mountain State Pancake Breakfast sponsored by the Martinsburg Kiwanis Club at the 167th Air Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard, the Mountain State Celebrity Sports Breakfast featuring Robinson and Hill sponsored by the Martinsburg Rotary at the Holiday Inn, and the annual arts and crafts show held all day in the Air Guard's giant hangars.

At night there was a square dance at North Middle School and the Soroptimists' Grand Ball at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Today another pancake breakfast runs from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the arts and craft show resumes and an antique car show will be held, all at the Air Guard. The awards ceremony will also be held in the afternoon at the Air Guard.

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