CORTLAND – Allyson Sanchez doesn't have to travel far to see her hometown's parade.
On Sunday, the neighborhoods of Cortland, where Sanchez lives, became a festive place for high school music bands, costumed superheroes and ponies for the 32nd annual Cortland Community Festival and Parade. Children standing with their parents at curbsides bagged candy during the par.
For Sanchez, it's the kind of event that brings the community together.
"We go throw a good parade for such a small town," she said. "And the kids like it."
The parade has come a long way from just being two people who wanted permission from a Cortland mayor to ride down the streets with their lawnmowers. That is how the parade first began, said Brad Stone, liaison for the Cortland Parade and Festival committee and town board trustee.
The parade had about 650 participants this year, Stone said.
Sunday's parade began at West Cortland Center Road and marched through the neighborhoods within Cortland before ending at the Cortland Community Park, where the festival would begin. Stone said this year's theme was science fiction and some of the participants, such as the Cortland United Methodist Church, had green aliens on their float.
Other participants, such as H.E.R.O., a DeKalb-based heating, air conditions and duct cleaning company, decided to bring along superheroes such as Captain America and Superman.
Cortland resident Seveline Darmstadt, who's watched the parade for almost seven years, said her favorite part of the parade was the Cortland PTA.
"They had a mad scientist lab," she said. "It was cool."
The parade ended at Cortland Community Park where attendees could enjoy food vendors, train rides, bounce houses and games for their children to play. New at this year's festival was a towering green zip line ride that allowed children to experience the sensation of flight.
The main draw is pulling the town together to have fun but everyone outside of Cortland is invited, too, Stone said.
"Just watching the kids have a great time and listening to the parents say 'wow, this is inexpensive' [and] 'we like coming here,' " he said.