Clarion, Pa.- The 61st annual Autumn Leaf Festival, organized by the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry, was highlighted by Clarion Hospital’s “Tournament of Leaves Parade” on Saturday, Sept. 27. Thousands of students and community members both watched and participated in the Main Street spectacle. Student participant and member of the university’s dance team, Lorenzo Ballenteros said, “It’s good to see all the faces, people [of the community] and students come together.”
The parade, hosted from noon to 2 p.m. on Main Street, occurred on the eighth of the nine day festival and rounded out the event’s festivities. This included the actual contest too of course, or rather the judging of floats and marching units in the parade. Parade participants such as celebrities, color guards, military representatives, nonprofit organizations, animals or specialty groups were not judged by the parade committee. Otherwise, musical and non-musical acts alike were judged in several categories including adherence to this year’s theme: “An Autumn Safari.” Competition was tough with 137 independent units in the parade.
The winning color guard, drum major and marching band overall was Brookville Area High School. Starz Drill Team from Rimersburg took first in the drill team category. Clarion County Career Center won in the community floats division, while Delta Phi Epsilon/Phi Mu Alpha/Phi Kappa took home gold in the university floats competition. Clarion resident, Kathy Rapp said her favorite part was, “all the high school bands. I was always in the bands,” the Clarion Area High School and university alumnus said she participated in every ALF parade between 1975 and 2003. Rapp was joined by student Eric Funk, a current member of the CAHS Marching Band. Funk said, “[The parade] was great beside it being abnormally hot compared to past years.”
Another high school band member in the parade, Tylin Conner, found other things to relish in such as “people tripping and other things that made me laugh,” said Conner. University student Aiden Calimon missed the hip-hop team when he took a break from watching the parade. He and his friends liked the bands and performing acts. New Kensington resident Floyd Richards, who visited Clarion for ALF, said, “I liked the bands the most.” A senior at Clarion University, James Pickering said, “I enjoyed the music.”
Homecoming royalty seniors Stephanie Warner and Andrew Bourizk also shared positive experiences regarding the “Tournament of Leaves Parade.” Queen Warner said she enjoyed, “The little kids screaming, seeing everyone and having people say my name.” King Bourizk also liked basking in the limelight as he said, “I liked feeling famous for two hours; it was an awesome way to represent the university.”
Sponsors for the parade included: Burns & Burns Associates Inc., Central Electric Cooperative Inc., Dr. Marc Maslov (Ear, Nose & Throat Associates), Holiday Inn, Kriebel Wells, The Commodore corp., structural Modulars, Inc. and WRC Senior Services.