3RF Parade

Thousands of spectators were dazzled by the floats, marching bands, special groups and local celebrities during the Three Rivers Festival Lutheran Health Network Parade on Saturday, July 12, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Journal Gazette video by Chad Ryan.

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Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Spectators line Calhoun Street on Saturday to watch the nearly 200 entries in this year’s Three Rivers Festival Parade.

Participants get kick out of parade

Concordia Lutheran Marching Cadets drum major Michaela Holloway keeps an eye on the parade route while directing the band.
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
The Fort Wayne Corvette Club rolls onto Harrison Street during the Three Rivers Festival Parade.

– It isn’t easy being green … especially when it’s 80 degrees, almost 60 percent humidity and the green is a thick, furry Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume.

“You have no idea” how miserable it is, Ethan Burk said. “This is hell.”

“I could wear this suit as a winter coat,” said his brother, Simon Burk.

The teens were sitting on the Carole Lombard Memorial Bridge on West Main Street with their younger brother, Henry Burk, and friend Kyeondre Williams. It was 10:30 in the morning, and they’d been waiting two hours for their turn to start walking in the Three Rivers Festival Parade.

The 194 official entries included politicians, car clubs, high school marching bands, nonprofits and others. Thousands lined the streets of downtown Fort Wayne to watch the spectacle roll by.

The foursome with the hard shells joined several costumed volunteers representing Stoner’s Funstore, a local retailer that specializes in costumes and magic.

Williams, one of the Ninja Turtles, answered quickly when asked if he’d be crazy enough to put himself in the same, sweat-drenched position next year. “Yes!” the 17-year-old said. “Why not? This is fun. We get to goof off in turtle suits.”

Ethan Burk, who also suited up last year, said he’ll return for round three if he’s given the chance.

“Being in the parade is awesome,” he said. “You get to high-five little kids.”

Magen Campbell, one of three drum majors for North Side High School, had more serious concerns on her mind as she led the 83 members who participated Saturday.

As the group waited its turn to march, Campbell recited the instructions that were drilled into her during two weeks of practices.

“Keep the band together. Keep calm. And avoid horse poop at all costs,” she said. “That’s what they told me.”

Along with the experienced participants were some new faces this year. Fort Wayne Pride made its first appearance in the Three Rivers Festival Parade.

Nikki Fultz, the nonprofit’s director, walked with about 35 group members, including children. Many were dressed in the rainbow colors that have been adopted by the LGBT community.

“Our festival is in two weeks, so we decided to come out and support Three Rivers,” she said. “Also, we want to introduce the community to diversity.”

Fultz acknowledged that some parade spectators might not be comfortable with what her group stands for, including legalized same-sex marriage. That’s why Fort Wayne Pride needs to be more visible – to educate the public, she said.

“We’re not here to offend anybody,” Fultz said. “We’re here to show love and support our community.”

Chase Richards watched the parade with his mother and girlfriend from the front steps of their house on Thieme Drive.

Positioned a couple of blocks from the official parade starting line, the family was able to sneak a peek of the performers streaming past as they prepared to turn the corner and turn on the charm.

“Everyone’s just getting set up,” Richards said. “Everyone’s getting pumped up. It’s cool.”