PARRISH -- Residents were smiling as the sun was shining and the tractors, carts and horses passed them by, reminders of why they love the little town they call home.
Droves of families came out Saturday to the Parrish Heritage Day Parade to begin a day of celebrating the unique Manatee County town.
"I loved the horses and the candy and the beads," exclaimed Julianna McNeillie said.
Julianna was all about the candy that was tossed to spectators during the parade, in addition to other goodies.
Not a Parrish native, she was enjoying the heritage celebration in her new home.
"I am so glad I live in Florida now," Julianna said.
Her friend Benjamin Barr was also all smiles.
"I liked everything," Benjamin said.
He also enjoyed seeing the float from his school, Annie Lucy Williams Elementary.
The parade route began behind the Parrish Fire District, 12132 U.S. Highway 301 N., and made its way along 121st Avenue.
Chole Highens, visiting family from Arizona, loved the parade.
"It's actually pretty awesome," she said.
Her favorite part was one of the toys she caught, a clear bouncy ball.
"This is more fun than Disney World," Chole told her aunt as she was catching beads during the parade.
Her family, the Gilberts, had all reunited for a family funeral but decided the heritage parade and festival was the perfect way to end the trip for all the extended family that had come in.
The parade route traveled north and then ended at the Florida Railroad Museum, where there was more fun to be had. The festival featured games, food and music as well as the annual favorite Chilli Cook-off.
Stephen and Cindy Keck were packing up their dogs Ginger and Star following the parade, excited to head over to the festival.
"We're probably heading home first though so we can drop these two off," he said. "We only live a block away."
The best part of the parade this year was definitely the weather, the couple agreed.
"The weather was perfect for a parade," she said.
Their parade experience was missing something though, they said.
"We wish we could have seen some of the bands," he said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.