WEATHER TAKES A TOLL
The cold, wind and rain on Friday night were apparently too much for RIley Festival organizers, vendors and those who might attend, so the event closed unofficially as of about 7 p.m., according to a festival spokesperson.
The festival will resume with a full schedule bright and early today, starting with the 7:30 a.m. James Whitcomb Riley Breakfast at Dale E. Kuhn American Legion Post 119, 275 S. Center St.
GREENFIELD — A steady drizzle washed away some of the festive spirit of the Children’s Parade of Flowers Friday afternoon, but the limited number of participants mustered enough soggy fanfare to continue the most enduring tradition of the annual Riley Festival.
The threat of storms prompted officials to drastically reduce the number of schoolchildren allowed to participate in the annual parade, which typically features hundreds of children and their parents.
A persistent line of showers passed over Greenfield Friday morning, and festival organizers had their eyes on the weather the whole time. They consulted both school officials and police on how to proceed.
They ultimately settled on a compromise between holding the parade as planned and canceling it completely. Instead of having 250-plus second- and third-graders march down Main Street to lay flowers at the feet of the James Whitcomb Riley statue, two per classroom were invited.
Instead of parading down Main Street, those 60-some students were bused to the front of the courthouse, where they stepped off just long enough to deliver their class’s flowers to the waiting Riley Festival queen and her court. The whole affair was over in less than 10 minutes.
Parents received an automated notice from the school that not all children would be participating, but that notice did not include the names of the children who were selected to attend.
Alexia Carr showed up to join the sparsely lined route, just in case her daughter was among them, but she left disappointed.
“It’s my daughter’s first and one year because she’s a third-grader,” said Carr, who just moved to Greenfield in July. “I even bought extra flowers.”
Carr went to the store Thursday night to let Jasmine, a third-grader at Harris Elementary, pick out her flowers and said she knew her daughter would be disappointed.
Carr’s husband is in the military, so the family moves frequently, making it hard for Jasmine to get settled at a school and learn its traditions.
“We’ve always moved before there was a chance to do anything like this, so this is a big, big deal for her,” Carr said.
Amanda Slattery, mom to 8-year-old Kelsey Slattery, thought ahead and called the school to see if her daughter would be participating and was excited to learn she’d be among her school’s representatives.
“I wasn’t about to come unless she was in it,” said Slattery, crouching beneath an umbrella with her sweatshirt hood pulled up to guard against the chill. “Just wish the weather was nicer.”