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Bands, floats, horses needed for Wellsville parade

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The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally Parade has always been a big event in Wellsville. This year, it is joining with the Texas Hot’s 100th anniversary celebration and organizers want to make it the best ever.

WELLSVILLE — With a little over a month until the combined Texas Hot Anniversary and Great Wellsville Balloon Rally parade, coordinator Mike Raptis is putting out the word that he needs help.

For the last several days Raptis has hit Facebook with messages that he is looking for parade participation, from bandleaders to equestrians, for the 11 a.m. parade on July 9.

This is sort of an unprecedented event for Wellsville, not in the fact that the Texas Hot is throwing a parade to celebrate its 100th anniversary — they’ve thrown parades for 50th and 75th anniversaries — but in the fact that this year for the COVID-belated 100th anniversary, they have joined with the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally.

Since the late 1990s, the GWBR has hosted a parade on the Saturday prior to the third weekend in July event.

The Rally parade is always the biggest parade held in Wellsville and features music, floats, politicians running for office and many local organizations such as the SPCA and Immaculate Conception School. Past Texas Hot parades have bowled-over parade watchers with displays of tanks and even an elephant. But those glory days are gone. Raptis says there are Homeland Security and animal welfare rules that preclude tanks and elephants.

So Raptis is, in his own words, “reaching out.”

“Today I am reaching out to all fire departments and ambulance crews. If you all would share with the officers and membership of these volunteer organizations that the Texas Hot would absolutely be thrilled and excited to have your organizations, be part of our parade on July 9,” he said. “Yes, I am aware that membership is dwindling but, just possibly by your presence in a large parade somebody may reach out and want to join. Membership in these two organizations is vital to our community.”

Potential participants are urged to call (585) 593-6070 to sign up or email”

Unlike before COVID, there are few events for car enthusiasts in Wellsville until the Fun Fest in September. Raptis is hoping, antique, classic and muscle car owners will join the parade.

“You know everybody enjoys looking at those shiny, cool-looking cars in a parade and we are reaching out to you to join and be part of this celebration for the community,” Raptis said. “If you are part of an organization let everybody know about the parade.”

To sign up cars, contact Raptis at the number or email listed earlier.

“From my understanding there is only one marching band in the parade so far,” Raptis recently commented. “There must be more schools in the counties surrounding us that have marching bands.”

Raptis also said he hopes people with “beautiful horses” will also participate in the parade.

Earlier, Raptis put out a plea for someone to help create a Texas Hot float.

“I have to admit I don’t have much talent in putting together a parade float,” he said. “If anyone is able to help us in putting together a float, please message us on Facebook.”

The request indicates that Raptis is looking for floats to appear in the parade and organizations and groups are encouraged to show their pride in their group by building floats or putting on marching demonstrations such as the former Library, Lions Club or American Legion drill teams. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are also invited to the parade.

Raptis is also looking to make the day of the parade memorable for more than just hot dogs and parade festivities. He is encouraging local artisans to take part in the event.