Homecoming opens with annual parade

BEVERLY – A few sprinkles of rain didn’t keep Beverly and Waterford folks from Thursday’s parade and opening night of the 67th annual Beverly-Waterford Homecoming celebration that continues today through Saturday.

“We were worried about the possibility of rain, but it seems like everyone came out anyway,” said Tom Leach with American Legion Post 389 that sponsors the three-day event at Beverly’s Dodge Park.

He said the weather is usually pretty good for the celebration.

“People who have moved away often come back every year for the homecoming, ” Leach said. “It’s just a great event for the towns to have a good time, as well as a little fundraiser for us, and everything we make goes back into the community-to the fire departments, schools, legion baseball teams, and other organizations.”

He said the Sons of the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary, and American Legion Riders all pitch in to assist with the annual homecoming event.

Ben and Amber Moore of Marietta brought daughter Sophia, 8, and sons Riley, 6, and Benjamin Jr., 1, to visit Ben’s mom, Joann Clark in Beverly and watch the children’s great-grandfather, 93-year-old Warren Gillard, honored as the 2013 homecoming parade’s grand marshal.

“I didn’t know until late last night that he was the grand marshal,” Ben said. “He served in the Navy during World War II.”

Ben also recalled growing up in the Beverly and Waterford area where he attended many past homecoming events.

“We used to go up to the park every year and ride the rides when we were kids,” he said.

American Legion Commander Steve Wainwright said the homecoming hasn’t changed a lot over the years and has always included something for the whole family to enjoy.

“Our parents came back from World War II and started this as a welcome home event. We’ve run it every year since, and it’s pretty much the same,” he said. “There’s free admission, free entertainment, and a great food booth. And the city lets us have Dodge Park every year.”

There are some new wrinkles added from year to year, though.

“Keith Degarma who owns Majestic Rides from Duncan Falls started with just a few kiddie rides, but the number of rides has grown each year. And this year he brought back the full-sized Ferris wheel that we haven’t had here for a few years now,” Wainwright said. “And the rides are all inspected for safety every year.”

Leach noted another new attraction this year is an antique tractor pull that will take place on Sixth Street, adjacent to Dodge Park at 4 p.m. Saturday.