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Festival engages online viewers
The Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival is tech savvy. Not more than an hour after IPFW's blue mastodon balloon floated down Main Street as part of the parade, presented by Lutheran Health Network, 68 people already had “liked” its photo on the festival's Facebook page.
Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
An antique fire engine rolls along the Three Rivers Festival parade route Saturday morning.

Parade crowd shows dedication

The Cat in the Hat float was a popular entry in this year’s parade.

Whether you're playing a flute, twirling a flag or handing out candy, it takes about 30 minutes to cover the parade route from beginning to end.

That's plenty of walking – about 20 city blocks' worth.

But the people who show real commitment are those who sit curbside to watch the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival Parade, presented by Lutheran Health Network.

To get a great seat, some people reserve space by spreading blankets on the sidewalk or setting out lawn chairs as early as Friday morning – about 24 hours before the action kicks off.

Andrea Schele, 57, and Vinnie Birrueta, 19, were among them. They put a blanket down on Friday to stake out the spot on Main Street where they would set up chairs on Saturday morning. It marked the sixth year the aunt and nephew have watched the parade together.

"I like the bands," he said.

"I like it all – the variety," she said. "I like looking at the people."

The parade, one of the highlights of the nine-day festival, this year adopted the theme "Made Here," which celebrates products manufactured in northeast Indiana.

More than 100 businesses, schools and other organizations participated in the parade, which wound through the West Central Neighborhood and finished just north of the Rousseau Centre, near Headwaters Park.

Michelle Hipskind was also in the crowd, along with her mother and two daughters. It's a family tradition that stretches back to when the 32-year-old was a little girl.

A friend's husband reserved their spot with a blanket spread out on Friday.

Emma, 3, sat up close with her grandma, scoring a balloon, candy and other giveaways.

"She's not moved from the curb. She's really into it," Hipskind said.

It was 17-month-old Ava who kept Hipskind hopping for about two hours.

The blue-eyed towhead seemed unaware that a parade was passing by less than 15 feet away as she frolicked in the shade.

At one point, Ava pushed her stroller in small circles with her left hand while eating a mini powdered doughnut from her right. Other times, she placed a small plastic banana into a plastic bottle before dumping it out onto the sidewalk – for her mother to pick up.

Again and again and again.

Hipskind marveled at the personality difference between her daughters. The older one has patience to spare. And then there's Ava.

"I have Miss Busy Bee who's like, 'Well, I'm not quite entertained enough,' " she said, smiling as the toddler repeatedly climbed into and out of her pink and orange flowered stroller.

Hipskind hasn't planned out what else she'll take the girls to during the festival. The Chalk Walk pictures in front of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art are always cool, she said.

The art was made on Saturday, but that section of Main Street is blocked off for three days so the public has time to visit and admire the work.

But that's for another day. The young family's next stop on Saturday? Home for naps.

Mama earned one.

More photos

– Sherry Slater, The Journal Gazette