Firetrucks, bands and floats were featured at the 20th Heritage Days Grand Parade in Philipsburg, but one of the main attractions Saturday afternoon was the group of performers from Altoona’s Jaffa Shrine.
Parade Chairman Harry Wood said this is the first time the event included the Jaffa Shrine’s whole corps, which includes about 20 units.
“All we basically did was meet with the people in Altoona and explained what we were doing and wanted to see if they could send all their units over,” Wood said. “We left and they had a meeting and soon later sent us a letter that said they’ll send everything they have. We’ve had them in the past, but not their entire entourage.”
The Jaffa Shriners’ units included color guard, a motor corps, mounted patrol, bands and more.
Wood said that this year also included the most drum corps featured at the parade, with troupes from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“We started getting drum and bugle corps a few years ago — it started with the Keystone Regiment (Senior Drum and Bugle Corps), and through word or mouth we started getting more,” Wood said. “It’s nice, too, because they hold live performances on Front Street.”
Many residents said the parade is an important event in the community.
“When you live in a small town like Philipsburg, there is a big sense of community, and something like this (shows) that,” resident Lisa Miller said as she attended the parade with her two children Caden Miller, 3, and Gemma Miller, 1. “(I) hope my kids get to see that it’s something small that brings a lot of people together.”
The Heritage Days fair attracts up to 20,000 people, event chairman Jim Pollock said last year in an interview with the CDT. The parade is generally the highlight of the weeklong festival.
Wood didn’t know how many units participated this year, but said there were 170 in the parade last year.
“The parade is pretty much the same as most years — we’re just trying to include more ... and make it fun and fair,” Wood said.