Beverly-Waterford Homecoming parade weathers storm
Communities defy rain to celebrate shared history
BEVERLY — The year after World War II ended, the people of Beverly and Waterford decided that the homecoming spirit that welcomed their men and women back from war should be an annual event. This year, that spirit continues as the two communities joined to celebrate another anniversary of an idea that began in 1946.
The Beverly-Waterford Homecoming is a community reunion, three days of fun for children, opportunities for local service groups to fulfill their missions and a chance for old acquaintances to be renewed.
“It’s a good chance for everybody to come back, an opportunity for grandparents to take kids to the park, it’s a homecoming, just like both communities coming together,” said organizer Steve Wainwright of American Legion Post 389.
Events will be concentrated at Dodge Park in Beverly through Saturday, with a petting zoo, bounce houses, food vendors and ice cream, and rides and games for children.
“As a kid growing up here, I couldn’t wait for this,” Wainwright said. “We’d get money from dad and ride the rides all night long.”
The homecoming kicked off with a parade Thursday night. Billie Stark sat with Wanita and Cliff Kernan in front of the Fifth Street Church of Christ, where the parade was routed to turn up to Dodge Park.
Stark said she moved to Beverly from Stanleyville in 1999 and is “happy as a lark” living in the community. “We need to support our kids,” she said, explaining why she came to the parade.
“It’s a good community with good schools,” Wanita Kernan said. “We love our community.”
Ronnie Welch said she came to the parade to see her daughter, Neveah, perform with the Buckeye Allstars cheer and dance group. The Allstars also drew Kristin Hallowell, Mark Frash and their family, who came from McConnelsville for the parade.
“The Buckeyes, they’re in it every year,” Kristin said. “My daughter Mackenzie is in it.”
Masyn Hallowell, 8, had a more pressing reason to be there. “The candy,” he said.
The parade was scheduled to set out from Waterford Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. Family clusters lined Fifth Street in Beverly, waiting, as a black billowing shroud of storm clouds began moving in from the north. As the flashing lights of law enforcement and fire vehicles turned the corner at Ohio 339, it began to pour.
Families picked up chairs and coolers and fled for the cover of building overhangs and parked cars. As the American Legion Post 339 color guard marched by, one uniformed marcher could be heard to bellow over the racket of the rain, “We’ll be able to say we did this route.”
Men and women in soaked polo shirts, their hair plastered flat by the downpour, walked with defiant smiles and flung candy out of buckets into gutter streams and puddles as children dashed from cover, their feet sending up small geysers, to fetch the treats out of the water.
When the line of vehicles and soggy marchers turned up toward Dodge Park, the storm moved on to Marietta.
The homecoming was under way.
Michael Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.