Some of the drums were soaked, some of the majorettes were shivering, but for many of the estimated 30,000 people who turned out yesterday for Washington's annual Cherry Blossom Parade the big show was worth some suffering.
"Listen, if these kids have enough guts to march in it, we have enough guts to stay here," said Elizabeth Schallow, of Arlington, as she stood on Constitution Avenue NW watching the bands go by. "It's tremendous. What's a little rain?"
Yesterday was the 50th Outing for the Cherry Blossom parade, but, as usual the Blossoms themselves weren't around for it. Nearly all of them had fallen off their trees about a week ago.
Also, the weather was bad - first rainy, then drizzly, then chilly. It not only held down the crowd, which had reached 200,000 for last year's parade, but also kept away the grand marshal, singer Pearl Bailey. She made it to the Watergate Hotel, but then told the parade organizers that she already had a cold and was afraid of making it worse.
However, fewer than 10 of the 108 units that signed up for the parade failed to perform, and the people on the sidewalks and bleachers who stayed to the end of the two-nour march seemed pleased to have done it.
"It's nice," siad Ellen Murtha of New York City. "If you go someplace you shouldn't let a little rain scare you back. It's part of Washington."
The parade also has become a rather broad cross section of America - including suntanned girls in high white boots from California, teenagers in Scottish kilts from Florida, and a high-stepping, fast-marching band from Cardozo High School in Washington.
There were bands from a Buddhist group as well as from Catholic high schools, all all-girls band as well as an all-boys group from a military academy, black groups as well as white ones, and a sizale number of high school bands with both blacks and whites in substantial numbers.
"it always amazes me," said James Moore, a New York City school-teacher who said he came down on a tour bus for his fourth Cherry Blossome parade in a row. "The musician-skip is wonderful. These kids are involved and proud. We're running into a barbaric situation with young people in New York. If we could only get then our marching, we might not have the rowdyism."
Or course, not all the spectators were happy. One white-haired woman from Ottawa, Canada, who gave her age (74) but not her name, said she was disappointed because there were not enough floats - only four - and no Cherry Blossom princesses.
The princesses haven't been in the parade for the past three years because of a dispute between the National Conference of State Societies, which selects them, and the Downtown Jaycees, who sponsor the parade. The state societies had their ball at the Washington Hilton Hotel last might.
"I'm so annoyed," the white-haired woman said. "I'd rather be home watching something on TV rather than sitting here in the rain."
But many others seemed happy to be where they were. Kathy Rajcak of Arlington, said she was a pomp-pom girl in the 1973 parade and hos come back to watchevery year since then.
"I just like it," she said.