Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 7, 2013

Parade showcases Kokomo's rich history

Thousands pack downtown to watch the annual parade.

By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — From the first cars produced by Elwood Haynes to the oldest locally owned business, the annual Haynes Apperson Festival parade Saturday emphasized Kokomo’s rich history.

Led by a 1968 Kokomo Police Department Harley Davidson driven by Capt. Heath Haalck, the parade featured more than 30 motorcycles, 70 automobiles and a host of floats from area businesses and organizations. Also on display were Haynes automobiles from 1902, 1918 and 1921.

“It took me a while to get used to it,” said Haalck of driving the older-model Harley.

“The throttle is on the left side instead of the right and the clutch is down by the foot pedal,” he said. “It’s different.”

Haalck was followed by two newer police Harleys, KPD’s Color Guard and KPD’s mounted patrol.

“I like the old police motorcycle,” said Rob Martin as he stood at the corner of Mulberry and Market streets watching the start of the parade.

“The horses are pretty cool,” he said of KPD’s newly-formed four-horse patrol. “I guess they have a better vantage point sitting that high.”

Martin’s main focus was on seeing his wife, Michelle, daughter, Deanna, 15, and son, Jacob, 9, in the Community Howard float.

“This will be the first time I’ve watch the parade,” he said. “It brings back memories of when I was a kid.”

As for the festival, Martin said he liked the move from downtown to Foster Park.

“It’s pretty nice at the park last night,” he said. “I was at the [Here Come the Mummies] concert. It was a pretty good show and it was crowded.”

Parade goers were met with gray skies as they took their positions downtown to watch the parade. Fortunately, though, the rains stayed away and the parade went on as planned.

People lined the streets, some standing, some sitting in lawn chairs and other sitting on the curbs along the parade route as the cars, motorcycles, fire engines and floats wound their way through downtown.

The roar of more than 30 motorcycles from American Bikers Aimed Toward brought the crowd near the main grandstand in front of Courthouse on their feet.

“You know the parade is starting when you that roar,” Paul Wyman, organizer of the Haynes Apperson Festival, announced from the stage.

“That gets my heart pounding,” said Mike Carr as the motorcycles revved up their engines. “That’s real Americana.”

Behind the bikes, a 1918 Haynes Cloverleaf driven by Bob Gollner cruised along slowly with Kokomo Opalescent Glass CEO John O’Donnell, this year’s parade grand marshal, riding along.

“It’s exciting to see Kokomo Opalescent Glass celebrate 125 years,” he said after climbing out of the Haynes.

“We’re the oldest locally owned business in Kokomo.”

Employees followed behind throwing candy to the kids watching.

Famous Indianapolis radio announcer Howdy Bell also made an appearance in the parade riding in a 1915 Ahrens-Fox fire truck.

After the parade, most made their way to Foster Park to ride the rides and enjoy some treats from the many vendors. Others checked out the array of antique cars and trucks on display showcasing Kokomo’s rich automotive history.