MASON CITY | Throngs of people of all ages lined the streets of Mason City Saturday to watch the 79th North Iowa Band Festival Parade.
"I just love the music and seeing the youth and the bands and all the people," said Mary Bloomingdale of Northwood. "It's a wonderful tradition in North Iowa."
Bloomingdale, who watched the parade with her children and young grandchildren, said she remembers coming to the band festival when she was a small child.
Later on she marched in the parade with the Northwood-Kensett High School Band.
Marching bands from all over North Iowa participate in the parade. Band kings and queens chosen from each school ride in front of their band.
Both Bloomingdale and her daughter, Erin Bedford, were band queens for Northwood-Kensett. Bloomingdale's mother, Madeline Midtgaard, was the band queen for Fertile High School.
"It was really an honor to be chosen by my classmates to represent my school," Bloomingdale said.
Paul Hamilton, who grew up in Mason City and now lives in Oklahoma, was at the parade for the first time in many years.
"I think it's great that bands from all over will come and participate," he said.
Hamilton, who was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, "Trouble, Right Here in River City," said some people in Oklahoma already knew the fictional town in "The Music Man" was based on his hometown before they met him, while others did not.
Laura Allen of Clear Lake and her 2-year-old twin daughters, Larissa and Maliyah Vysocky, were at the parade for the first time this year.
"They are excited," Allen said.
The twins were dressed in identical red, white and blue outfits. One of the girls danced as a band went by.
"They love to dance," Allen said.
They also enjoyed the candy distributed along the parade route.
Allen said she decided to bring the girls to the parade because of its size, as well as "the candy and the nice weather."
When asked what she likes best about the parade, Lukereisha Walker of Mason City replied, "Everything."
"I like the bands," she said.
Walker, now 36, has been coming to the parade since she was 5. Now she brings her children.
"They love the candy," she said.