McDONALD -For the past 80 years, the McDonald Volunteer Firemen's Association has hosted a festival centered around the Fourth of July holiday, with proceeds from the event helping local service and community organizations.
The festival kicked off Wednesday with a parade attended by more than 1,000 people who lined Ohio Avenue, the village's main street, watching the high school band, numerous fire trucks, sports teams and business floats and police cruisers.
The festival's first day also included a race along Ohio Avenue.
The festival continues from 7 to 11 p.m. today to Saturday with rides, food and bingo. Fireworks are at 11 p.m. Saturday.
Mayor Glenn Holmes selected as grand marshal 9-year-old Jacob Sypert, who may be the youngest grand marshal in parade history. Recent tradition is to select local senior citizens, often some of the oldest residents of the village.
Sypert, who will be a fourth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary in the fall, has been battling leukemia.
''It was brought to my attention about Jacob, so I called his family to see if he would be our parade grand marshal,'' Holmes said.
Jacob said, ''When my mom told me he called, I said yes. I thought it would be fun.''
He rode in a white car at the beginning of the parade with his parents, Bill and Joy, and brother, Jaret.
Fire Chief Nick Kish said the fire department tries to schedule the festival as close to July 4 as possible.
''We donate a lot of what is made these four days back to the village. The money helps local band boosters, Little Leagues, civic groups and residents in need in the village. There are some families who have children with health issues that we have helped in the past,'' Kish said.
Holmes said 90 percent of the festival's proceeds go back to helping the community in many ways from children and adults who are battling serious medical issues to helping to provide for local youth organizations and families at the holidays.
As for the crowd Wednesday, Kish said the parade and the fireworks always draw huge numbers of people.
''It will be like this all week and on Saturday night for the fireworks,'' Kish said.
Children were especially paying attention to the floats and fire trucks as candy was being thrown to the curbside for them.
Michael Delbono, 13, of Howland, said he always enjoys the rides at fairs and festivals.
''The rides are my favorite part. I like the candy, too,'' he said.
He was there with a friend, Christopher Mijavec, 6, of Howland, who was helping his father at one of food booths and trailers set up for the event, but took some time to watch the parade.