By Charlie Feldman
FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE HOMECOMING
For the first time in two years, Maryville celebrated its annual Homecoming.
Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19. The year before that the Saturday night festivities were hit by torrential rain as they started. Everyone ran for their cars, soggy parade floats and costumes and all. When the rain eventually stopped sometime long after dark, some folks reconvened for music and fun.
Despite dark and gloomy-looking skies, the Homecoming came back better than ever Friday night, June 9. The rides were going, the fire department was grilling and making funnel cakes, the crowd was buying beer and playing at the poker booth and standing in line for food and drinks. Lanny and Julie were playing “White Rabbit.” And the parade, featuring two marching bands (both were Shriners, one wearing costumes), old and new fire trucks, marchers and creative floats with a games theme, was welcomed by the crowd. The children gathered candy thrown from the vehicles.
When the parade was over, the Shriners band with the costumes played patriotic favorites and rock songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Then the Blue Marlin Band took the stage with their ‘60s and ‘70s tunes and psychedelic lighting.
As the skies grew darker, the colorful lights grew brighter. The rides whirled, friends got together and beer and that famous fried fish were consumed. The Homecoming was back … at least for the first day.
“It’s been very smooth so far this year,” said Police Chief Rob Carpenter. “And probably one of the record crowds, I’d say.”
He said he thought Saturday would go “wonderful, as long as the weather holds out.”
“It’s fairly busy,” said Sgt. Brandon Ponce of the Maryville Police. He said he really didn’t have any expectations about how busy the Homecoming would be. He was there on duty as a cop. How did he think they would do on Saturday night?
“Hopefully the same, as long as the weather holds up,” he said.
Proceeds from the Homecoming are used by Maryville firefighters to buy equipment. The very first, held in September 1938, only raised $1,200 because it rained.
But it had that really good fish.