2018 Old King Coal Festival Parade - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

2018 Old King Coal Festival Parade

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WEST FRANKFORT -- Thousands of people gathered in West Frankfort this weekend for the Old King Coal Festival.

The sounds of firetrucks, bands and happy children filled the air in West Frankfort Saturday at the Old King Coal Festival's Grand Parade.

There the thousands of people who lined the streets saw displays from nearly 100 departments, groups and organizations all to celebrate the rich history of the coal industry in West Frankfort.

The festival, which has run every year since 1941, honors that industry and the many coal miners that helped drive the area's economy.

"It's our heritage," said Bill Levanti of West Frankfort. "It's what caused us to be a town in the first place. It grew into a small city and at one point, it was the industrialized heart of southern Illinois."

Levanti was one of those coal miners, working in the mines for more than 30 years.

He was named Old King Coal 2018 and said it's great to see so many people come out to celebrate West Frankfort's coal heritage.

"It was so thrilling, it really was," he said. "I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been all mountains and no valleys in this."

After the parade, many families stuck around for the rest of the festival which included games, rides, food and plenty of live music, leaving smiles all around.

It's those smiles that Cody Hayes said is the best part of the event.

"It's awesome seeing all the support the community brings, he said. "There's really no words to describe it."

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