Dear Answer Man,
With Rochesterfest just around the corner, I seem to recall that the early Rochesterfest parades were held on Sunday afternoon. Is my memory faulty?
— Parade lover
Yes, Parade Lover, you’re memory could use a tune up — or a look through the voluminous R-fest files here at Answer Man World HQ.
You are correct that the first parade, back in 1983, was held on a Sunday afternoon. Technically, though, that wasn’t Rochesterfest. It was “The celebration of a city,” for Rochester’s 125th anniversary. Sunday, Aug. 14, 1983, was a hot and steamy one, but an estimated 10,000 people turned out to watch the 170-unit parade.
Among the guests riding in that parade were mayors from other Rochesters around the country. Mayor Chuck Hazama, dressed all in white to deflect the sun, walked the entire route.
After that Sunday afternoon sauna, the parade was moved to Friday night the following year, 1984. And you know what happened: They forgot to ask Mother Nature for a parade permit and the whole shebang almost got rained out.
The parade was delayed when thunderstorms moved through the city at starting time. I remember it well, because Lil Sis was worried her band uniform would shrink if it got wet. Eventually, though, the downpour turned to drizzle and the parade went off just fine — even if it did have to finish in the dark.