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Festival of States Day Parade to return

St. Petersburg's Festival of States Day Parade is back.

Raymond, the mascot of the sponsoring Tampa Bay Rays, will be grand marshal of the event, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The route starts at Central Avenue and Fifth Street, moves east to Bayshore Drive, then north to North Shore Park.

The popular component in the yearly civic festival took a pause in 2007 to ease stresses on the St. Petersburg Police Department, which was already stretched providing security for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Rays' last spring training day.

The Suncoasters, the organization that produces the festival, worked with Grand Prix and Rays officials this year to maximize benefits for each.

With racing legend Michael Andretti as grand marshal and drivers as participants, the Illuminated Night Parade last Thursday kicked off the Grand Prix for the first time, festival executive director Rick McCollum said, benefiting businesses along its Beach Drive route and generating additional interest in the speed competition.

"We're very excited about our relationship with the St. Pete Honda Grand Prix," McCollum said.

The Festival of States weekend also includes a concert and jazz band competition at 10 a.m. Friday at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N; the Florida Gulfcoast Harley Owners Group motorcycle show and competition from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in South Vinoy Park; and Family Funfest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in North Straub Park.

The Harvey's 5K Festival Run, traditionally held the evening of the night parade, gets started at 7 a.m. Saturday in North Straub Park.

"We're getting back to our roots," McCollum said of the festival, which in the past few years added rock concerts and comedy performances to the schedule. "We're experts in doing things for families and in producing parades."

Along with a perennial favorite, the 750-member Greater St. Petersburg Area Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band, the Suncoasters sought to add more marching bands from out of town.

Festival of States Day Parade to return 04/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 4:12pm]
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