Every year, at about the same time, chairs start showing up along the Fourth of July Parade route in Warren.
As of Tuesday, there were dozens of chairs lined up along Pennsylvania Avenue scattered from the southeast corner at Market Street to the northwest corner at Hazel Street.
Most of the reserved spaces were right along the curb - more on the south side of the street than on the north.
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Al and Janice Kuppertz tie up two chairs along the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue near the intersection of Poplar Street. They have been attending Warren’s Fourth of July Parade together for over 50 years and bringing chairs to the route in advance for about 15 years.
Some forward-thinking parade fans cordoned off spaces with depth, staking out areas perhaps 10 feet wide and six feet deep. They used trees and sign posts to secure their cables, chains, and ropes. It looked like one group pounded four sign posts into the ground to establish their territory.
At least one chair was not visibly secured. The longest group of seats was 12. There were tables and one bench that were taking up roped-off space.
It's a tradition.
As a couple, Al and Janice Kuppertz of Weldbank have been going to the parade together for longer than they've been married.
For more than 50 years.
"We never miss it," Al Kuppertz said on Tuesday.
Janice Kuppertz was attending the parade for years before that with her parents.
For about the last 15 of those years, they've placed chairs along the route - sometimes two, sometimes more if family plan to join them.
"Every year," Janice Kuppertz said. At about the same time in mid-June. They put out their two chairs on Tuesday.
"I love it," Al Kuppertz said.
He used to enter floats in the parade. Now he's happy to sit back and watch the whole thing.
They always look for space on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue, near the judging area. They like that the performers - bands, dancers, singers, etc. - are sure to do their thing for the judges.
There are other performances, before the parade itself, that can only be seen and heard there. Janice mentioned that students who win awards for essay writing read their works for the VIPs.
So they put down their chairs and rope them to something.
They've never had chairs taken - they're careful to use old chairs, just in case - but "we've had them moved on us," Al Kuppertz said.
Being in about the same place every year helps them find their seats. "We have to know where to look," Janice Kuppertz said.
This year, they have a Route 6 mile marker to mark their spots.
There are no strong reasons why people should not put chairs out, but City of Warren Police have some requests.
One is to wait until the parade is close at hand.
"Exercise some judgment here to wait until we get a little closer to the parade," Chief Raymond Zydonik said, adding that chairs may be in the way of city workers whose job is to make sure the property along the parade route is mowed and maintained.
A second request from police is there is also concern about chairs moving from their original positions.
In previous years, chairs have blown into the Allegheny River and onto Pennsylvania Avenue, Zydonik said.
Some motorists parking along the parade route have complained to police about chairs falling into their cars and chipping paint.
Even if they don't blow over, chairs can be in the way.
"They can't be blocking the parking spaces," Sgt. Brandon Deppen said. "They need to stay back away from the curb so that somebody can get in and out of the car."
There is a stretch on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue between Poplar and Hazel streets marked by caution tape that is reserved for the judging area. Bleachers or a trailer will be directly in front of any chairs set up in those areas.