Shriners, 100-yr-old Model T highlight AO parade

GREENVILLE – Between 80 and 90 entries composed the 2015 Annie Oakley Festival Parade, starting at the Darke County Fairgrounds and working its way to the Greenville Circle on July 25. Returning after a year’s absence, it had all the necessary ingredients for success… bands, community groups, first responders, public servants, local businesses and organizations… the Shriners and a 100-year-old Model T. It came off the production line April 23, 1915.

According to owner Darrell Biddlestone, Annie might have ridden in one of those cars at one time. This year Senior Scribes Scholarship recipient Shelby Schepis joined a long list of VIP passengers.

“John Boehner and Jon Hein were parade passengers,” Biddlestone said. “There was also Darke County’s first (and only) woman sheriff, Margaret Howard. When Jim Doseck was Grand Marshall, he rode in this car.” Biddlestone noted his riders also included Bess Edwards and many more.

The Model T tops out at 45 miles per hour. “I’m waiting to see how this works,” Shelby said quietly. In the parade, however, it will only be going about 5 mph. “Well, that will be okay,” she noted. She added it was an honor to represent the Senior Scribes Scholarship Fund.

Shelby, Biddlestone and his Model T entered the parade to promote awareness of the Fund, which through sponsors and donations, has awarded nearly $56,000 in scholarships to Darke County young people.

A little further toward the front Darke County Fair royalty – 2014 and 2015 – prepared their vehicles for the drive through town… while even further Early Bird Publisher Keith Foutz and his wife Peggy prepared a vintage Corvette for the trek. The newspaper’s mascot, Scoop, showed up a little later reading his morning Early Bird newspaper.

Close to the Grandstand, the Shriners – old hands at this – were standing around talking. Matt McFarland took time to show off the Shriners’ paddy wagon, a 1926 REO (Royce Edward Olds). “It’s a cousin to the Oldsmobile,” he said.

The parade kicked off a little early and entertained hundreds of onlookers on both sides of South Broadway. It stopped in front of the courthouse for the Pledge of Allegiance, and Annie Oakley Festival Committee members Jennifer Peck and JoEllen Melling sang the National Anthem.

 PHOTO CAPTION: Students are hard at working getting their 4-H Beef Club entry ready for the Annie Oakley Festival Parade. (Bob Robinson photo)

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