Ithaca Festival: Can't rain on their parade (with photos)

By Erika Mahoney

May 30, 2013 Updated May 30, 2013 at 12:25 AM EDT

Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Since the mid 1980s, the streets of downtown Ithaca light up with color and music as the summer months dawn.

The Ithaca Festival invites the community to share and showcase their talents for four days.

A parade, full of those talents, kicks off the event.

In what veteran parade-goes call normal, the sky opened up Wednesday evening, right on cue.

"Even though it rains and thunders every year, it seems like it doesn't deter anyone," resident Connie Park said.

The Ithaca Festival parade draws hundreds of families and friends downtown every year for candy, costumes and the celebrations.

Police Officer Derek Barr, who has worked at every parade, said not that much has changed since the first one stepped off in the mid-80s, except for the continued growth.

"I think the biggest thing the director has to come up with is new themes," Barr said.

This year's festival theme is "Where the Heart Is."

Residents said it's a perfect fit, and something the parade symbolizes.

"It's a small town, but it feels like a really special place," Park said. "Lots of interesting things, lots of interesting people."

With recent tragedies that have hit tight knit communities, residents said the simple joy of watching a parade side by side brings gratitude.

"When I hear things like that, I just appreciate what we have here, right now," Park said.

It's community that won't let a little rain ruin their parade, residents said; a community that shares umbrellas with one another.

"I think that a lot of the things that go on in the world today are because people aren't close to each other," David West said. "And one of the things about Ithaca is, we are."

Barr said the parade is aptly named, considering the compassion that runs through the streets of Ithaca, just like the rains that brought residents together on Wednesday.