Un-Judges reign on parade

October 17, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A 10 with a smiley face meant approval.

A frowning face was a jeer.

In a jovial mood, the "Official Un-Judges" were generous with 10s and frugal with frowns at Saturday's 25th annual Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival parade in Martinsburg.

The unsanctioned, frivolous, sideline "reviewing stand" has been a tradition for about 20 years, said Vic Vesper, who borrowed the idea from the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Va.

The Un-Judges set up court Saturday on a high lawn lined with a concrete wall, looking down on the 800 block of West King Street.


Following protocol, they kicked off the day with a tailgate party at Debbie and Wade Myers' house a few blocks away.

As Un-Judges, they held up 10s and cheered whenever firetrucks, police vehicles, pageant misses and little misses, and school bands rolled past. Bad marks were unlikely, though; most Un-Judges neglected to put a frown on the flip side of their paper signs.

Promising to have their own float next year, the Un-Judges saw a lot this year.

A lead-in of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and antique vehicles gave way to politicians on parade.

Some were incumbents, but many were harvesting votes.

JoAnn Overington, a Berkeley County magistrate candidate, rode with her husband, John, a state delegate.

Signs urged people to pick John Yoder for state senate, Joe Manchin for governor and Darrell McGraw for attorney general.

Berkeley County Commission President Steve Teufel was in a Mercedes.

Martinsburg City Councilman Richard Yauger sat in a motorcycle sidecar.

Pamela Games-Neely, seeking re-election as Berkeley County's prosecuting attorney, rode on the back of a motorcycle.

W. Randy Smith, who is seeking another term as Berkeley County's sheriff, rolled along West King Street in a Jeep - with someone dressed as Spider-Man standing in the back.

Votes were not a concern on Saturday for Del. Walter Duke, who is unopposed in the coming election - but getting a spot in the parade was. He said incumbents were promised rides, yet somehow he ended up without one.

At the last minute, he was paired with Michael Lamm of Jones Springs, W.Va., who was driving a 1927 Chevrolet truck that he has fixed up himself over the last five years.

Duke, a Republican, said he didn't remember the parade being so packed with politicians years ago.

After Lamm dropped him off, Duke worked to untangle a bunch of red balloons with Duke's name on them.

He tied a loop at the end of each freed balloon and slid it on his left wrist.

"I've lost a lot of 'em before I learned that," he said.

Stacy Rudy took a balloon for her 4-year-old daughter, Emily.

As it turned out, Stacy Rudy was campaigning, too. She was collecting "votes" - a penny contribution was a vote - in a can for Emily's sister, Hailey, 3.

If Hailey earned enough votes, she would be Tiny Miss Apple Seed and get to ride in the parade next year.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican," Stacy Rudy said. "Just vote for Hailey."

Marie Cramer was trying to win favor by giving out free dessert samples.

Cramer said her daughter, Lara, is co-owner of the Sweet Inspirations bake shop on West King Street.

Marie Cramer's plate of freebies included pumpkin bread, applesauce cake and fudge.

The fourth offering was sugar cake, a recipe that Cramer said came from her husband's great-grandmother.

"Anybody that eats 'em has got to have 'em," she promised.

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