Originally Published: July 3, 2009 9:11 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Strollers, puppies and children - mostly children - were everywhere in downtown Prescott Friday morning as the annual Kiwanis Kiddie Parade kicked off the July 4 weekend.
For as far as the eye could see on Cortez Street, kids in all forms of red, white and blue gear gathered by about 8:30 a.m. to take part in the holiday staple.
From a miniature donkey decked out with a "Grand Canyon or bust" sign to a small army of princesses to two boys towering over the rest on stilts, the parade showcased plenty of ingenuity.
Natalie and Brianna D'Angelo of Prescott, for instance, showed up as star-spangled Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha. Wearing star-shaped sunglasses and shiny bangles, the two girls, ages 7 and 9, pulled a cart carrying their neighbor's dog, Schultz, as the Yankee Doodle Dog.
Their mom, Joy D'Angelo, explained that the idea for Aunt Samantha arose after one of the girls decided to be Uncle Sam.
"We decided to do the girl version of Uncle Sam," she said. "We spent hours in our garage; it was a blast."
Prescott friends Ben Jensen, 10, and Simon Paige, 11, also appeared to be having a good time showing off their skills on stilts.
After towering over the other entries for the entire parade route, the boys stayed in costume, eating ice cream and posing for photos in front of the Buckey O'Neill statue.
"It wasn't very hard," Paige said of the feat of walking along Cortez Street and onto the courthouse plaza wearing the stilts.
Jensen agreed. "You just gotta practice a lot," he said.
For four other parade participants, the state of the economy entered into their patriotic message. Siblings Kali, Brock and Karis Dandos and their cousin Sean Sisco, ages 6 to 9, wore sandwich boards depicting the 1970s Chevrolet jingle "Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet."
"We're the All-American kids," said Sean's mom, Lisa Sisco, noting that the idea came up because of the state of the economy. "We're just hoping people will be old enough to remember that commercial."
While Kiwanis parade co-chair Kathleen Gillis estimated that about 300 to 400 children participated in the parade, hundreds more people gathered along Cortez Street to watch their children, grandchildren and friends parade down the street.
Marion Ziebell-Miles hurried alongside, waving to her grandson Oliver Miles as he rode his bike in the parade. She explained that she had just arrived for a visit from her home in Indiana for the parade and for Oliver's fifth birthday.
"It's such a good parade," she said.
Mary Kloman, another spectator sitting along the parade route, was attracting attention of her own as she sat with her dog Sweet-Pea, a pug wearing a red, white and blue hat and vest. Two little girls immediately gravitated to the dog, and informed Kloman, "He likes it when you rub his belly."
"It's amazing," Kloman said of the parade. "This is our first time. We just moved here in December from San Diego."
Gillis said Kiwanis members have sponsored the Kiddie Parade for the past 68 years.
"It's a great community event," Gillis said. "It's one of those things that's special about the downtown celebration."