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Rain, Rain Go Away – Harborfest Is In Town!

OSWEGO, NY – “Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain.”

For the better part of Thursday, the Credence Clearwater Revival tune was probably running through the minds of the Harborfest organizers.

Starship got Harborfest 2008 off to a rockin' start, chasing away the rain clouds.
Starship got Harborfest 2008 off to a rockin' start, chasing away the rain clouds.

However, as the showers subsided, Starship, starring Mickey Thomas, provided the mantra for opening night – “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now.”

Performing on the Labatt Lakeview Stage, Starship launched Harborfest into its third decade.

Amanda and Bill Robinson enjoy a London broil sandwich Thursday night at Harborfest.
Amanda and Bill Robinson enjoy a London broil sandwich Thursday night at Harborfest.

Prior to the performance, an abbreviated version of the traditional opening ceremonies were held.

John Sullivan, the night’s master of ceremonies, welcomed the enthusiastic albeit damp crowd to Harborfest 21.

Crystal Wallace and her daughter, Mariah, stop to see the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Crystal Wallace and her daughter, Mariah, stop to see the Budweiser Clydesdales.

“Here in Oswego, if we’re not going to let six feet of snow bother us, we’re not going to let a couple of inches of rain bother us, either!” he said.

Red sky at night, a sailor's delight – and hopefully an omen of better weather for Harborfest.
Red sky at night, a sailor's delight – and hopefully an omen of better weather for Harborfest.

The red sunset was a good omen for the rest of the festival, he added.

His late wife, Charlotte, was one of the original founders of Harborfest.

He describes her as the one who “put the zest in the fest.

Harborfest showcases Oswego’s greatest attributes – its history and its warmth and its people, Sullivan said.

It’s the largest family celebration in the Northeast, he pointed out.

Joining Sullivan on stage were Mayor Randy Bateman of Oswego, Oswego County Legislator Jack Proud, Assemblyman David Townsend, Sen. Darrel Aubertine and Kim Cloonan of Harborfest. They thanked the Harborfest staff and the hundreds of volunteers that make the event possible. They wished everyone “a great and safe Harborfest.”

A group of Starship fans dances in front of the stage during Thursday's opening night concert.
A group of Starship fans dances in front of the stage during Thursday's opening night concert.

Sullivan read a letter from Gov. David Paterson citing the festival as “one of Upstate New York’s most delightful summertime experiences.”

Proud shared a multitude of well wishes for the festival from people all around the area. However, shortly before the opening ceremony he said he got a call – from Doppler (the WSTM-3 Weather Cat) who told him, “take my name off that list and tell those people in Oswego they’re on their own tonight.”

The Mexico resident noted that he had supper in Oswego prior to coming to Harborfest. The heavy downfall had caused minor flooding in some areas, and he quipped that he had to “walk upstream” just to get back to his car.

Cloonan, president of the Harbor Festivals board, told the crowd they had a great weekend ahead of them and thanked them all for coming and reminded them to buy 50-50 tickets to help support the fest. One lucky winner will be chosen from all the entries on the Labatt Lakeview Stage at 5 p.m. on Sunday. You do not have to be present to win.

“Every year, there are four magic words that start each and every Harborfest,” Sullivan reminded the crowd. “If I gotta tell you by now (what they are) we’ll never get through this.”

Then, as in years past, he counted down from five to one and the crowd yelled out, “Let the fun begin!”

Crystal Wallace and her daughter, Mariah, were making their way up Lake Street for the opening ceremonies, but had to stop to see the Budweiser Clydesdales along the way.

“We are checking out the horses. They’re very nice,” Mariah said of the gentle giants in stalls behind her. “We want to get a picture but they won’t turn around. They’re eating.”

Bill and Amanda Robinson were enjoying a London broil sandwich in Breitbeck Park Thursday evening.

The large crowd braved the pesky showers for Starship. Webb Wilder and the Beatniks (the warm-up act) was a casualty of the weather, however.
The large crowd braved the pesky showers for Starship. Webb Wilder and the Beatniks (the warm-up act) was a casualty of the weather, however.

“This is our first Harborfest,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff to do and good food.”

They said they’d probably take in the Starship concert, but wanted to see Dead Rose, a Syracuse area rock band.

Harborfest’s music continues today (July 25) with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on the Lakeview Stage at 9:30 p.m.

Keke Palmer will perform at noon on the Lakeview Stage (WOLF Radio Disney Concert) at Breitbeck Park.

There’s plenty more music on the other stages as well.

The children’s musical will be performed at the Children’s Stage in Breitbeck Park at various times during Harborfest including at 3 and 6 p.m. today.

The Northeast Navy Show Band will be on the Budweiser Rock Stage at 5 p.m. followed at 7 p.m. by Simplelife.

The Oswego Jazz Project will be at the NRG Family Stage at 1:30 p.m.

The annual children’s parade steps off today at 11 a.m. from West Park. The route ends at the home of the Children’s Park in Breitbeck Park, near the Lakeview Stage.

For more information, visit www.oswegoharborfest.com