Big crowd as Main Street Festival dodges downpour

In a day of fast-moving thunderstorms and threats of rain, Saturday's 31st Main Street Festival kicked off at 9 a.m. and kept going all day, dodging sprinkles but refusing to be rained out.

City spokesman Pete Piringer estimated the crowd at more than 85,000 in a message on Twitter, and vendors offered everything from jewelry to crab pretzels, with many sending tempting aromas in the air of grilled meat.

Parade grand marshals Fred Frederick and Matthew Coates were Board of Trade bookends: Frederick, who has owned a Laurel car dealership for half a century, helped found the group decades ago; and Coates, who owns a Main Street photography business, is the current board chair.

Parade coordinator Jim Cross said 55 groups, 78 vehicles and more than 1,000 people marched in the festival's kick-off parade this year, which was judged by Mark Hemler, Marlene Netherton, Kay Harrison, Becky Miers and Frank Anastasio. The Laurel Volunteer Fire Department beat out the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad in the emergency responders category, and festival favorites West Laurel Rag Tag Band were chosen by the judges as best overall.

Parade winners

Judge's choice (best overall): West Laurel Rag Tag Band

Business/commercial: first, Chick-fil-a; second, Nestle Dreyers Ice Cream Inc.

Community organization: first, Laurel Mill Playhouse; second, American Rosie the Riveter Association, Laurel Chapter; third, Laurel Riverfest.

Ceremonial presentation: first, Laurel High School Air Force Junior ROTC; second, American Legion Post 60 Honor Guard.

Dancers/poms/cheerleaders: first, Lansdowne Shooting Star Poms; second, Laurel Steelers; third, Bowie Boys and Girls Club.

Emergency responders: first, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department; second, Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Marching band: first, West Laurel Rag Tag Band.

Novelty: first, Outback Leather; second, Iglesia De Dios Laurel.

Youth organization: first, Laurel High School Air Force Junior ROTC; second, Lansdowne Shooting Star Poms; third, Laurel Little League.

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