MASSENA - Final applications were reviewed, last minute preparations were being made and dozens of vendors began filing into the Massena Arena Friday afternoon to set up their displays in anticipation of the 35th annual Heritage Festival.
The event kicks off at with a parade lineup on Water Street between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. today and will also include a bevy of vendors and a large offering of live entertainment. The parade route runs from Main Street through downtown Massena to Bowers Avenue to a section of Grove Street before ending at the Massena Arena.
This year’s theme, “Our North Country Heritage in Sports,” will be evident during the march.
“The Massena Little League has told us that they have 200 kids coming in the parade plus the coaches. We also have a nice contingent of Massena Central High School athletes. We have about 50 athletes, both boys and girls,” Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen Kelly-Ori said.
She said that the state champion Massena Central boys’ hockey team will also be featured in the parade on a float. Also participating in the parade will be the school’s softball team, representatives from Trinity Catholic School, and the Red Raiders marching band.
The march will be highlighted by honorary co-grand marshall Jonny Gustafson, a luger who was recently named to the fall 2014 Junior Team for USA Luge.
“The one thing that is very important is that it is a celebration of Massena’s heritage. This year we have a great group of athletes. When you look at the vast array of great athletes coming together on one street on Main Street,. it is very impressive. I think it is a nod to the parents and coaches great preparation and dedication,” Ms. Kelly-Ori said.
The Heritage Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Massena Arena and is expected to include 85 vendors.
Among the activities awaiting visitors today are bounce houses, face painting, pony rides, a petting zoo, Cubby T. Clown and a silent auction.
The idea of a sports-themed festival came courtesy of chamber board member Sanford T. Cook at a previous board meeting.
Even after the day is through, attendees will still be able to interact with chamber officials and have a chance at winning additional prizes.
“This year we have something called ‘Send us your selfies at Heritage Festival.’ We’re asking people to like the Facebook page or follow the Twitter page and after the festival they send in their selfies. We will then randomly pick some of the entrants for prizes,” Ms. Kelly-Ori said.
People may access the chamber’s Facebook page by searching for “Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce.” They can see the Twitter page by typing #massenaheritage.
Entrance to the Heritage Festival is $3 for adults, $2 for students, and children 5 and under are free.
Sponsors for this annual event include SeaComm Federal Credit Union, Alcoa, North Country Savings Bank and Seaway Valley Ambulance.
For more information, contact the chamber at 769-3525.