Today I got to be in a parade!
Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis has been around for more than 75 years. They help children with physical and mental disabilities. Since some of the special needs children at the preschool I work at have benefited from their programs, the school put together a group to march in Variety parade (which took place in downtown St. Louis near Union Station) this morning.
Although the parade didn't begin until 10:00, we were asked to arrive at 9:00. We got checked in, then moved to our assigned spot to wait. Our group was a combination of staff, parents, current students, and graduates of the program. There were several decorated wagons, a couple of three-wheeler bikes, and a stroller.
The parade was supposed to start right after the singing of the National Anthem. However, we had to wait around for another ten minutes. First someone on the stage made an opening speech (which we couldn't hear particularly well from where we were standing), then the groups in front of us had to get moving. Finally it was our turn to go. As each group passed the stage, the MC introduced it. Everyone in our group cheered when we heard the school's name. There was a marching band two units ahead of us; their music was infectious, and I found myself walking in rhythm along with the percussion.
Our group handed out little containers of bubbles to the spectators along the parade route. I tried to make sure that everyone who wanted a container, both adults and children, got some. You're never too old for bubbles! At the end of the parade we lined up along the street and watched the units behind us. My box of bubbles wasn't empty yet, so I offered them to a group who had just finished; the bubbles were gone quickly.
This parade had everything! I saw a lot of walking groups like ours, but there was also some support dogs with their trainers, and a collection of children in wheelchairs with their attendants. There were some Shriners with their little cars, a few floats and balloons, and an Elvis impersonator riding in the back of a classic car.
The parade took one hour from start to finish. Afterwards there was a party in Aloe Plaza, but I passed on it. It was time to get back home.