Affton Days rolls on
Affton Days
Affton Days

Affton Days rolls on

Parade, festival celebrate community

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Janice Willey was very popular Saturday afternoon in the St. George Catholic Church parking lot.

She was constantly approached by people with money in their hands. It wasn't just for Willey's pleasant personality. They wanted to buy Classic Bingo Pull Tabs. Each card had five pulls tabs, revealing if the buyer had won $100 to $1.

A total of 224 winners was guaranteed.

"Back again?" Willey, 46, asked one woman, who purchased several Classic Bingo cards. "Here you go." A young boy came running up, having won a dollar. He grabbed the money and ran.

It was all part of the Affton Community Days Festival and Parade, sponsored by the Affton Chamber of Commerce and St. George Catholic Church.

For Willey, 46, the festival is a big part of life in the community. She and her husband, Steve, 50, are lifelong Affton residents and they like the tradition.

"It's important that Affton has this every year," she said, while continuing to sell cards. "It gives everyone a chance to get together, talk and have some fun. We have a lot of people who have moved somewhere else, but come back for the festival."

Even non-Affton residents like the festival.

Cheryl Emelko, 44, of South County, and her husband are regular visitors. It started because some of her husband's friends are from Affton.

"We bring the kids and have a great time," she said. "It makes you feel like a little kid. I never leave here without buying some pull tabs and a funnel cake."

The parade is a longtime tradition. The festival evolved from the parade, which first started in 1984 as a way to celebrate Affton High School and the community.

Hundreds of people lined the parade route on Mackenzie and Gravois roads, cheering the marching bands, and family and friends riding in cars and floats.

All of the marchers eventually ended up in the St. George parking lot for the festival, where entertainment, food and information booths awaited them. Some of the younger children enjoyed inflatable rides, including a rock wall and a slide.

A few of the participants weren't that young. Callie Sophwell, 19, and Blake Fisk, 17, both of Affton, climbed to the top and then slid down side by side. On their third try, she surprised him by pushing him. He laughingly protested all of the way down.

Taking it all in was event manager Terri Ems, who has been with the parade and festival from the beginning. This was her last year to organize Affton Community Days. No successor has been chosen.

"I'm a little sad, but it's time to go," Ems said. "Everything went well. We had a good crowd and the weather was good. It was a nice way to go out."

The festival's proceeds will provide three Affton High seniors with $500 scholarships to cover college expenses.

However, money has never been the purpose of Affton Community Days, Ems said.

"We always want to break even," she said. "This is a day for the residents and the community."


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