It's all about the candy. Sure, the firetrucks were shiny, the bands were on point and the Revolutionary War-era muskets were loud, but many children came to the Columbus Day Parade on North Salina Street for another reason - to get some sweets.
"They just love it," said William Mallory, as he watched eight young children in front of him scramble for bubble gum thrown from a firetruck. "They were asking all week, 'When's the parade?' It's like Halloween without the costumes."
The Sunday afternoon parade is the culmination of a three-day festival in Syracuse's Little Italy. On Sunday, there were food stands, live bands and the induction of five honorees to the Northside Walk of Honor, located in the 400 block of North Salina Street. The award is given to people or organizations who contributed to life on the North Side.
"It's always a little awkward being in the spotlight, but this is a great idea," said Sister Dolly Bush, who won the Citizenship Award for her work as director of Northside Ministries, which provides social and legal support to the underprivileged.
Bush said that even though she wasn't sure why the Columbus Day festival was a week before Columbus Day, she thoroughly enjoyed the event.
"It was a gorgeous day for it, and it was a lot of fun," she said.
Nick DeMartino, parade chairman, said the 6-year-old festival moved to the first week of October in an effort to catch good weather; last year it rained on the parade. The sky was heavily overcast for most of the parade, but it didn't rain, and DeMartino said he was pleased with the turnout.
"It went well," he said. "It's a nice event. We're not just a parade; we're a festival."
Jessica Tumino, owner of Asti restaurant, 411N. Salina St., has watched every Columbus Day parade with her family from the front of the Italian restaurant. The parade, she said, is great for the community.
"It brings people in," Tumino said. "It's good for the kids; good memories to be started."
And, of course, a good way to practice for Halloween.