The parade traveled west on East Main Street, then turned south on Benedict Avenue before turning right onto Norwood Avenue and finally west onto Fair Road, ending at the fairgrounds.
More than 100 floats and participants entertained the crowd, some tossing out goodies along the way. Guests of honor included Miss Maple City and the Milan Melon Festival queen, local high school bands, baton twirlers and military personnel. Serving as grand marshal was Linda Bersche, who is retiring after 41 years at executive director of the Norwalk Area United Fund.
Each year, the Norwalk Lions Club — the parade organizer — honors those showing a particularly patriotic spirit during the festivities.
This year, though, club members created a special award to honor someone they believed deserved the day’s “top honors.”
Charlie Fisher posthumously received the first-ever top honors award at the parade judging that took place at the line up of floats, trucks and performers celebrating Independence Day.
Fisher died unexpectedly April 16 at age 73 following a brief illness.
This award came after Fisher was honored recently at the Lefty Grove all-star games.
“His compassion for the youth of our area enriched the lives of all who came in contact with him,” said Scott Ford, commissioner of the Lefty Grove Baseball League, adding Fisher left behind a “legacy of caring and concern for others.”
Fisher, of Norwalk, graduated from St. Paul High School in 1963. He served as a U.S. Army drill sergeant during the Vietnam War. He was a member of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and the St. Paul Alumni Association.
One of Fisher’s biggest contributions to the Lefty Grove program was top soil. He owned and operated Topsoil King and Hillside Wood Heat for more than 40 years. Ford said it was common for Fisher to bring in eight to 10 loads of top soil, but only charge the league $100 when “it should have been thousands” of dollars.
Prior to the parade, the Mapletree Road Race began and ended at the fairgrounds.
After the parade, the first day of the seventh annual Norwalk Music Festival took place, also at the fairgrounds. The event continues today and concludes Saturday.
Finally, a fireworks display was scheduled to begin at dusk, concluding Norwalk’s Fourth of July festivities.
There were 26 other winners in Thursday’s parade. They are listed below, with the category first, followed by the first-place winner and then the runner-up.
Commercial float: Piney Paradise and A Westside Store
Civic float: Huron County Master Gardners and Daughters of the American Revolution
Marching unit: American Legion and Baton Academy Twirlers of Norwalk
Antique automobile: Tom Sloma and Jim Grover
Most unusual entry: Daniel, Hunter and Marty Oney; and Norweco
Horse unit: Stampede of Dreams and 4-Leaf Clovers 4-H Club
Drill team unit: Norwalk Blue Pride and St. Paul High School
Clown: Laney the Clown and Neil Hansberger
Fire company: Milan Township and Townsend Township
Best church float: Norwalk Baptist and St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church
Truck unit: Coles Energy and Ohio National Guard
Business Float: Lody Paws Grooming and Boarding; and Great clips
Youth float: Erie County Fair Royalty and Lefty Grove League