40 isn’t old – If you’re a tree

Harvest Homecoming 1970

Nobel Lumpkins & Illustrious Potentate

Shriners on little Hondas

More Shriners

Shriners in corvettes

Stephen Lutz - Harvest Homecoming

Daiv Stoner - Furry pumpkin

Stephen Lutz - Harvest Homecoming Booths

If you sawed your old pal Spooky in half you’d count 40 rings. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Harvest Homecoming street festival in New Albany, Indiana. I think there’s a certain harmony in that.

Every year leading up to the big event, the buzz at S. Ellen Jones Elementary School was intense. “I heard that some kid got stuck upside down in the Rocko-plane. Oh yeah? I heard that Frankenstein walks around an’ catches kids an’ takes ’em back to the haunted house an’ he eats ’em! Nuh-uhhh!”

I was introduced to a lot of my favorite things for the first time at the Harvest Homecoming. Parades with big firetrucks and Shriners in little cars, candy buckeyes, peanut butter fudge, buffalo burgers, corndogs drowned in mustard, a clown walking an invisible dog, five pop-gun shots for a quarter, the duck pond where you were guaranteed a spider ring or a rubber skeleton, billowing clouds of grilled chicken smoke, shop windows painted with ghosts and bats, my very first wad of cotton candy, and rides. Rides!

I called my favorite ride simply The Cars. You’ve seen them. Little corvettes going round and round in a circle under a big umbrella. Back then there was a button on the steering wheel or the dash that sounded a buzzer. “Maaak aaak aak aaak aaak!”

Five of my top 10 memories are of my brother Brian and his wife Kathy picking me up after school to go ride The Cars and the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Scrambler, and a sort of parachute-tower affair where I got a certificate because I jumped so many times.

In a couple of weeks a parade of firetrucks, marching bands, floats, politicians, thunderous old dunebuggies, older but no less thunderous Shriners, and all the rest will wind through the streets of New Albany again, just like they’ve done every year since forever ago, proving that you really can come home again.

Thanks to Daiv Stoner, Stephen Lutz, and the New Albany Free Public Library Image Archive for use of the photos.
Harvest Homecoming home page & schedule of events

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