CANTON – The tradition marched on.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Canton Repository Grand Parade stepped off at 8 a.m., near Sixth Street SW. It travelled north on Cleveland Avenue, passing thousands of people who lined both sides of the street for more than two miles, to its conclusion at 25th Street NW.
"To me, every year it gets better," said Lawrence Harris, a city sanitation worker and lifelong Canton resident.
Harris has attended about every Grand Parade for the past 50 years and used to bring his children, who are now grown. It was his second year helping clean after the parade.
This year's lineup included 111 units − Hall of Famers, new and returning; plenty of high school bands; floats such as a giant Idaho potato and Oscar the Grouch; balloons; the high energy performance of the South Shore Drill Team; and gobs of classic cars, to name a few.
Here's some of what we saw along the route:
Parade floats lined Cleveland Avenue south of Sixth Street SW as spectators made their way north to the start of the route.
Ashley and Jason Holderbaum brought their 1-year-old daughter Olivia in a stroller to watch her second Grand Parade. The Holderbaums try to come every year, and were on their way to sit with relatives.
"We like the balloons," Ashley said. Jason added that his favorite group is the South Shore Drill Team from Chicago.
They walked past Marty Rischar, of Youngstown, who sat in the Mabel Schwebel toaster mobile — a 1966 vehicle that replaced a 1936 bread truck from Schwebel’s Baking Company. He's been with the company 31 years and said he enjoys the camaraderie of parade day in Canton.
"We always seem to get a warm reception here," Rischar said.
He operates bread slices atop the toaster-like truck with a two-button controller, the motor for which usually burns out by the end because "everyone wants to watch the bread go up and down."
Camping and cookouts
Finding a good spot to watch the parade is all about planning.
Arrive early and plan to stay late.
Early often means the evening before. A smattering of tents lined grass and asphalt lots along the northern half of the route, between 12th Street NW and Malone University.
Shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, Tylor Shahan flipped sausage patties on a sizzling grill to feed a contingent of about 20 family members near 25th Street NW. He maneuvered his breakfast menu around a table filled with pizza boxes, left over from last night's dinner.
As is the case with so many locals, the the parade is a family tradition.
'Roll off now'
Marching bands began playing with high energy as they approached the "roll off now" signs on Cleveland Avenue SW.
Aside from a brief burst of sunlight, the morning was cloudy and humid with temperatures in the 70s. Police officers from several area departments were stationed at intersections along the route.
People watched the enshrinees, marching bands and balloons from bleacher seats, folding chairs and buildings facing the street. Coffee drinks and boxes of sugary, fried dough from Dunkin' Donuts, Mary Ann Donuts, Giant Eagle and other generic brands were plentiful.
Chants of "spin it" − with a variation of "unscrew it" for the AEP lightbulb balloon − were frequent requests from the crowd to balloon handlers, who often obliged.
The color of the day
About 200 people come to Pioneer Financial Services for a good parade seat every year. Owner Tom Crank, who’s also the baseball coach at Malone University, invites employees, clients, friends and friends of friends to the soiree.
His mom, Linda Crank, provides sausage gravy and biscuits and cinnamon rolls to help feed the hungry throng.
Pioneer’s location, at 2515 Cleveland Avenue NW, provides premier seating.
“We do a different color each year,” Crank explained, showing off a table full of hundreds of Pioneer T-shirts.
The shirts were green when Green Bay’s Brett Favre was enshrined.
Blue when Colts’ and Broncos’ star Peyton Manning got in.
This year was gray and black for the Raiders’ Cliff Branch.
Crank said typically they’ll run a few of the shirts out to the corresponding hall of famer, as he passes – and they usually graciously accept the gift.
Steelers in Browns territory
Theo Satterwhite is a regular at the parade.
“I’m a hardcore Steelers fan,” he said.
He and Tanya Whitehouse spent the night in his black Jeep Wrangler. A Steelers banner, noting the team’s six Super Bowl titles, dangled from the top. Next to a couple yellow Terrible Towels. Just behind a chair draped with a Steelers blanket.
He’s usually surrounded by Browns’ fans.
“Them ... and them … and them,” he shouted while pointing his finger left, then right, and finally across the street. “That’s why I got to be loud. I’ve got to be louder than anyone..”
Last night, he paid the price, though.
Someone dumped a beer on his blanket.
Satterwhite is pretty sure it was a Browns fan.
Tight white pants
Sue Sprandel proudly displayed a "We (love) Bob Golic" sign in front of her seat at her family’s business, Sprandel Chiropractic Clinic in the 1400 block of Cleveland Avenue NW. She said she was hoping to embarrass him a bit.
Golic − who played 14 seasons in the NFL, including seven with Cleveland − is now a talk show host for WNIR 100.1 FM.
Sprandel has met Golic, because she said she used to date Tom Cullison, the radio station's production director. However, she admitted to being a Golic fan long before that. In fact, it began during his time with the Browns.
“I always liked his white football pants,” she said with a smile. “And he knows it, because I’ve told him so.”
Showing some love
Many returning hall of famers are regulars on parade units.
And so many of them enjoy the 2.5-mile slow ride north from downtown to their exit point at Bill’s Cobbler Shop.
While it’s common for parade watchers to take photos of the stars, Raiders’ tight end Dave Casper returned the favor, taking photos of the crowd with his cell phone; Vikings’ lineman Ron Yary signed a football for a little boy; Mike Haynes profusely thanked the crowd and told them he’d see them again next year.
Skilled autograph-seekers know the best place to watch the parade is from a grassy hill, north of the post office – beyond the official end of the route. While most of the units head east into the Malone Parking lot, just south of the post office, all the Hall of Famers continue on for a few more blocks to the cobbler shop.
“Ten so far,’ said Chad Rucker, showing off a photo of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, signed by 10 members of the Hall.
Darin and Jenifer Hill grew up coming to the parade as city residents and now were sharing the experience with their sons, 3-year-old Callen and 5-year-old Davis. They said it's changed over the years, with fewer tractors and horses this year. They still find it fun.
The Hills planned to attend the Concert for Legends and Dave Chappelle shows this weekend.
"We try to do all of the Hall of Fame things," Jenifer said.
Robyn Rohr and her daughter Madison, a Jackson High School band alumnus who previously marched in the parade, said they enjoy seeing all the marching bands. Madison noted that watching it is less tiring than participating.
"It's just nice to come out and see people from all over Stark County united for something fun," Robyn Rohr said.
After nearly two hours of entertainment, police and firefighter sirens signaled the parade's end.
Float winners for 2022
The Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce had previously announced the float winners of the 2022 Canton Repository Grand Parade. Eight floats were entered.
Grand Prize Award – Best overall entry in the parade: Freedom Float, sponsored by Newcomer’s Chapel of Pigeon Run United Methodist Church
Ohio State Award – Best nonprofessional builder entry: Anya Van Rose Music
Enshrinees' Award – Most-effective use of color: Fairplay Family Center
Mayor's Award – Best display of animation: 12th Man, sponsored by Akron Auto Auction
HOF Board of Trustees’ Award – Most original concept: Black College Football Hall of Fame
NFL Award – Best use of flowers: Louisville Constitution Court
Exceptional Merit − Ohio Lottery, Summit Academy School
The panel of judges were: David Whitehill of ArtsinStark, Mark Vandegrift of Innis Maggiore, Chris Lesho of Shattered Window Productions and Janelle Lee of the Black College Hall of Fame.
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This article originally appeared on The Repository: Saturday's Canton Repository Grand Parade attracted thousands to area