By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The way Sandy Morrison sees it, she lives in one of the best spots in Quincy.
"I walk around town all of the time and think: â€˜Boy there are a lot of nice neighborhoods, but they're not on the parade route. We can't move,'" Morrison said.
As they have every year since the Dogwood Festival started 44 years ago, the Morrisons opened up their house in the 2100 block of Maine to friends and family Saturday for a porch party as the Dogwood parade rolled past.
Instead of people filling seats on the Morrisons' front porch and in the benches set up near the sidewalk, many of Saturday's guests were to be found inside. That was the best place to be as temperatures hovered in the low 40s and rain fell at the start of this year's parade. The dreary weather was a carryover from Friday, when an all-day soaker forced the cancellation of all Dogwood-related events for the day, including the annual block parties.
About 20 minutes before the parade was to start, a group of 11 dancers from the Vancil Performing Arts Center huddled under one umbrella. None of the teen-age girls was dressed for the weather. Each was wearing shorts and a wind jacket. The only thing keeping them warm was their nervous energy for their upcoming performance down Maine Street.
"I'm freezing," said Amber Vose, a freshman at Quincy Junior High School.
The group had practiced a long time to do a routine to "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5. Fortunately, the dancers were near the front of the parade line, in the No. 23 slot. There were 135 entries in the parade, but the cold and rain kept some of those entries away.
But the rain didn't dampen the spirits of the few spectators who braved the weather. In the prime candy-grabbing spots during the parade from 18th to 24th on Maine, there was plenty of room to be had. Those who did show up got their fair share of Tootsie Rolls, lollipops and pieces of gum that were tossed out by parade participants. Eager youngsters grabbed at the treats, even though many of them wound up water-soaked near gutters, and placed them into their plastic bags.
The light rain eventually stopped, and the sun tried to burst through the clouds momentarily about 10 a.m. but ultimately failed.
Morrison, who has lived at her house with her husband, Ted, since 1965, said attendance for her porch party was down from last year.
"We had 52 people last year," she said. "I don't expect as many this year because of the weather."
Three organizations were honored for their parade entries that best matched the Dogwood theme of "Celebrating the Champion in Us All." St. John's Anglican Parish's Operation Serve won the Mary Lou Kent Award. The float featured 30 teenagers pushing grocery carts to collect canned foods for the hungry. The group had a boxing ring with boxers punching a bag to "knock out hunger." Each corner of the ring was dedicated to agencies that were going to benefit from the collections -- the Salvation Army, Quanada, Horizons and Madonna House.
Gardner Denver captured the Governor's Award. The float was pulled by a John Deere tractor with an advantage duplex compressor. Some Gardner Denver pumps were also featured on the float.
Good Samaritan Home won the Mayor's Award, sending a group of more than 20 walking boxes of Wheaties down the parade route. The boxes featured photos of Good Samaritan residents. The group also passed out bowls of Wheaties, "the Breakfast of Champions," to honor its residents.
Dogwood festivities wrap up Sunday with several events. The annual Dogwood Bowl flag football tournament is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at Flinn Stadium. The Quincy Preserves House Tour will be from 1 to 5 p.m., and the amusement rides near Washington Park will be running between noon and 4 p.m.