PARKERSBURG - Veteran character actor Paul Dooley said he was pleased with the homecoming and welcome he had this weekend, which included his turn as grand marshal of the third annual Mid-Ohio Valley Easter Parade on Saturday afternoon.
"A lot of people came out of the woodwork," said Dooley, who attended numerous events through the weekend. "So many people who knew my parents and even grandparents came out and meeting them and talking to them were my favorite parts."
Along with sitting in the audience during showings of three of his films - "Breaking Away," "Popeye" and "A Wedding" - Dooley also attended a reception in his honor and spoke to students at Parkersburg High School, from which he graduated in 1945.
Kendall Gant, 4 months, of Vienna, was the youngest participant of the third annual Easter Bonnet contest in the Mid-Ohio Valley Easter Parade on Saturday.
"I liked most of it and what really drew me in was the people," Dooley said. "In California the distance separates you, but here the people like to talk and, I think it's the human connections that were the most fun."
Dooley smiled from a convertible during the Easter Parade with his son, Adam, at his side.
The parade went off without a hitch and while rain threatened in the beginning, not a drop fell as the roughly 90 floats went down Market Street.
"We were blessed not to have rain or lightning dampen our parade," said organizer Kiki Angelos.
Lori Ullman-Wright, who sat on the parade committee and helped run the parade with her broadcasting management class at the Wood County Technical Center, said about 30 groups backed out of the parade because of rain.
Although some floats opted out of the parade, many area residents came out for the event as people of all ages lined the parade route.
"Nothing stopped the people from filling downtown," Angelos said. "I cannot believe everything and the 'thank yous' people shouted at me on the float."
The theme of this year's parade was "Children at their Easter best," which Ullman-Wright and Angelos said was utilized really well by the parade participants.
"It still went great and I would not have wanted to be a judge of the floats because there were so many good entries," Angelos said. "This was truly, without a doubt, one of the hardest in terms of competition of the bonnet contest and the float contest."
About 20 people participated in the Easter bonnet contest at PHS before the parade. The youngest participant was 4-month-old Kendall Gant, of Vienna, who wore a brimmed hat covered in purple flowers and ribbons.
"We've decided to make this a tradition," said her mother, Sarah Gant. "She'll be in this contest every year."