Horsemen, bikers, performers and plain folk turned out for the Grier Heights communitys annual Labor Day anniversary celebration.
There were no police officers on hand this year to serve as escorts for the parade that ended with a reunion in Grier Heights Neighborhood Park.
City personnel and resources were needed elsewhere for events associated with the Democratic National Convention this week.
Organizers pressed on and continued the tradition that for many is a source of pride and unity for a community that has had its share of challenges. The neighborhood, situated 3 miles southeast of uptown Charlotte, has an above-average crime rate and few homeowners. This spring, three young men were shot and killed in a short span.
I think (the march is) the best theyve ever had, said Lorraine Love, who has lived on John Avenue for more than 60 years.
She waved and called out to friends as the crowd moved along Skyland Avenue toward the park.
Some say the event has been going on more than 30 years. Others believe its been more than 40.
This year the Grier Heights Community Improvement Organization applied for a parade permit, as it has in the past. The request was denied.
We managed just fine, said Charlotte City Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey, who said she was not aware that there was problem with the event permit.
Joretta Petty left her own neighborhood, off Arrowood Road, and stood on Orange Street smiling and waving when she saw familiar faces.
I think its wonderful, she said. All the old neighborhoods should have one.
The event brings former residents back to spend an afternoon with those who still call Grier Heights home.
I come every year, said Jimmy Love, 46, who now lives near Shamrock Drive. You get to see all your friends you grew up with.
Jeffery Porter, a current resident, rode a 9-year-old Arabian stallion called Amazing. He was among more than 20 horsemen to participate.
Its for the kids, he said from his saddle. So they can get to see the horses.
Indeed, the children who lined the streets seemed to be in awe of the animals. Many were also expected to take rides before the day ended.
At the park, the days events also were to include speeches, music, games and food vendors selling festival fare.
It is a chance to see the best of Grier Heights, said Kenneth Funderburke, the neighborhood association president. Too often, the focus tends to be on poverty or crime.
All of the negative coverage we get, its not indicative of what Greer Heights is all about, Funderburke said. Grier Heights is a very loving community.