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Published: Sunday, 6/4/2006

Festival revives tradition, pride in Old West End

Jon Hendricks and Joyce Perrin were crowned king and queen after the parade. Jon Hendricks and Joyce Perrin were crowned king and queen after the parade.

An Old West End resident for 34 years, Joan Szuberla has been a part of her neighborhood's annual festival almost from its start.

She has witnessed the Old West End festival evolve from simple historic home tour to a carnival atmosphere with a parade and yard sales.

"It's really quite marvelous," she said yesterday as she watched the parade roll by.

In its 35th year, the festival has continued to evolve.

This year, organizers revived a 97-year-old idea to have a King Wamba Carnival Parade and Coronation Ceremony.

King Wamba was a 7th-century monarch who ruled Toledo, Spain, for seven years. King Wamba and Queen Sancha were last seen together in 1909, when locals decided to promote the festival that they hoped would promote Toledo in the same way New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras.

It only lasted one year.

But yesterday, Jon Hendricks and Joyce Perrin were crowned king and queen at the end of the parade, which started at Scott High School, journeyed down Collingwood Boulevard, and ended at Jefferson Avenue.

"It's been a pleasure," said Mr. Hendricks, the new king. "You get appreciation from people that I didn't count on."

Ms. Perrin, who has lived in the Old West End since 1963, said she likes being part of a festival that represents the neighborhood she's lived in for most of her life.

"The fun thing about the Old West End is what you see is not always what you get," she said.

The eclectic parade, including a man blowing fire, a car covered in toast, and the usual fire trucks and bands, marched its way down the street yesterday as watchers lined Collingwood Boulevard.

As a longtime resident, Ms. Szuberla has a lot of pride in the Old West End. The festival is a time for residents to share their enthusiasm and advertise their spirit to the rest of the city, she said.

"[The best part is] having people from outside the neighborhood come in, take a look around, and see how marvelous our neighborhood is," she said. "It brings in the community, old neighbors come back, and people discover it's a good place to live."

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