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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette The new blue Mad Ant greets kids at the annual Three Rivers Festival parade Saturday. The Mad Ants have adopted the blue-and-gold color scheme of the Indiana Pacers, who own and operate the team. His build has also been tweaked to make him less intimidating.

Sunday, July 09, 2017 1:00 am

Parade is super start to festival

Heroes - real and imagined - greet spectators

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Today's TRF Schedule

Three Rivers Festival Bicycle Tour: 7 a.m., Hickory Center School, 3606 Baird Road, $20

Open Streets Fort Wayne: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Downtown, Calhoun Street from Superior to Williams streets and Wayne and Berry streets between Calhoun and Ewing streets

Antiques at the Park: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., McCulloch Park, 1700 Broadway

STAR 88.3 Music Stage: Doors open at 5 p.m., $15 day of show

The streets of downtown Fort Wayne were the safest in America on Saturday morning as thousands of residents and visitors turned out for the superhero-themed Three Rivers Festival parade, now in its 49th year. 

Superheroes, stormtroopers and Jedi Knights took to cars, trucks, bikes and floats to greet the crowd, which was several rows deep in many areas. Spectators lined the sidewalks, sitting on folding chairs, blankets, coolers, and in one case, a large bag of mulch.

Mayor Tom Henry – sans mustache – grinned as he waved to his constituents. The Mad Ants' new mascot, now blue to match the Indiana Pacers' team colors, drew cheers from the crowd as he rode along in the doorway of a team bus. And of course, no Three Rivers Festival parade is complete without an appearance from Johnny TinCap, a crowd favorite. 

“I love the parade,” said City Councilman Tom Didier, who said he has marched with the Fort Wayne Komets for 27 years, often rollerblading the entire route. “I really enjoy the time that I get to spend with all the fans. I feel like I'm a part of the team.”

As a longtime participant, Didier said he thinks the Three Rivers Festival parade is “one of the best parades across the tri-state area.” He said he was delighted by the choice of superheroes for this year's theme.

“I think it's awesome that they did that,” Didier said. “Who doesn't get into Superman, Batman and all that? The kids really love it.”

Familiar faces – including County Commissioners Therese Brown and Nelson Peters, Senator Joe Donnelly and several Fort Wayne city councilmen – were joined by numerous local organizations, including groups of local Buddhists and Sikhs, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and of course Fort Wayne's own police officers and firefighters. Even the 122nd Fighter Wing was in attendance as A-10 attack planes delighted parade-goers with a flyover. 

The parade is just one of a plethora of events and attractions for residents and visitors at the Three Rivers Festival this year. The festivities continue today with the Plymouth Music Series Summer Arts Festival, the Three Rivers Festival Bicycle Tour, Fort Wayne's Largest Garage Sale, Antiques at the Park and more.

More information can be found at