Hundreds of kids march in 69th Kiwanis Kiddie Parade
More than 500 children decked out in patriotic and Western gear marched around the Yavapai County Courthouse early Friday morning in the 69th annual Kiwanis Kiddie Parade.
"This has been a tradition for us for the past two years, since she was a baby," said Lauren Sanchez, the mother of Mae "Lucky" Sanchez, who was dressed as a rodeo clown on a float, along with her dog dressed in an Uncle Sam hat.
Sanchez's neighbor, Tami Trippi, said they saw Mae in the parade last year and her children April and Charlie Trippi decided to join in the fun this year on their wagon decorated with pinwheels, mini flags and pool noodles.
"What makes this a great event every year is you," said Jim Atkinson, of the Kiwanis Club of Prescott, as he spoke to the crowd of children and their families.
The Green family said they were at the parade as part of a family reunion with 24 kids in their family. Katie and Kaden Green had decorated their Big Wheels with flags and plenty of patriotic items.
Two stilt walkers, Ben Jensen and his friend, Simon Paige, towered above the rest of the parade participants. Jensen said he learned how to walk on stilts during a circus training camp at Tsunami on the Square.
Lynette McCall said her son, Miles, dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants because "he's a familiar character and other kids get excited and will come up and touch him."
"What a beautiful morning, and what a turnout," Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said. "This is the reason we're here in Prescott, Arizona, and our future is here with us today."
"In a few years, one of you will be doing the job I'm doing," Kuykendall told the children.
Annie Morgan said she dressed up as her favorite equine, Spirit, because she loves wild horses.
Grady Funke, who rode a homemade horse and chariot, said his grandma, grandpa and his uncle helped create his unique bike entry.
"Last year, we came for the candy," said Emma Agronovitz, who decorated her scooter this year with all sorts of patriotic gear, and had temporary tattoos she was eager to show off. She also had her bear collection dressed up to be towed behind her in a wagon.
Before the parade, Kathleen Gillis, publicity chair for the Kiwanis Club of Prescott, said they have more children involved each year.
"This is how we say thank you to the community," Gillis said. "People were so generous during our auction where we raised $145,000 that we gave to local children's groups, organizations, charities, and schools."
Jailynn Suttle rode her pony, Little Yeller Feller, in the parade and said she woke up early to put glitter on his hooves and stars on his coat.
Elena and Ava Glover said they found all sorts of patriotic gear for their dog, Sturgis, including some red, white and blue head boppers.
After the parade, children received ribbons for participation and ice cream sandwiches as they and their families rested on the Yavapai County Courthouse lawn.
Sol de Mexico, a folklorico dancing group from Prescott Valley, relaxed under a tree and waited for the winners to be announced in each category.
"We were so happy to come and show we have this opportunity for dancers here," said Nancy Godinez, who leads the nonprofit dancing group.
She also thanked the YMCA, the Boy Scouts, the Rainbow Girls, and the members of the Kiwanis Kiddie Parade committee for all their work to make the parade a success.