With Sept. 19 marking its 60th offering, the Kiddie Day Parade has become a tradition for many families across Bartow.
Organized by the Kiwanis Club of Cartersville, the event provides youth up to fifth grade an opportunity to dress up in their favorite costumes. Along with walking, participants can travel on decorated floats, bicycles, strollers and wagons. The parade will not require an admission fee or pre-registration.
“[We had] a group of Kiwanians 61 years ago that were at a convention, and they saw another Kiddie Day Parade,” said Dr. Linda Denham, chairman for the Kiddie Day Parade. “They thought, ‘This is great, there’s nothing in this town that’s specifically for kids.’ All of the other parades are not just for children. So they came back, and they started the parade. They gave awards. They gave ribbons for first, second and third and then a grand prize.
“... Now we’re seeing [former participants whose] grandchildren are in the Kiddie Day Parade. People do it every year, and it’s passed on through the families. I went to Sunshine House day care and I was handing out fliers. One of the teachers said, ‘Oh yes, we won last year.’ ... As soon as the parade’s over, they start planning for the next parade. ... It’s just a tradition. We always do it the same day as [the Arts Festival at] Rose Lawn. So that makes a great family weekend.”
Registration and lineup for the parade will begin at 9 a.m. in front of ShawHankins at the intersection of Bartow and Main streets, with judging following at 9:30 a.m. Starting at 10 a.m., the procession will travel down Main Street, then it will turn left on Gilmer Street, left on Cherokee Avenue and end at the 1903 Gold-Domed Courthouse, where refreshments and prizes for the winners of each category — individual boys, individual girls, groups, bikes and floats — will be dispersed.
This year’s grand marshal will be Sam Franklin Jr., who, along with his neighborhood friends, were awarded doughnuts for winning the parade’s grand prize in the late 1950s.
“The reason that I got asked to be the grand marshal was because the Kiwanis Club made some comment on Facebook about the very first Kiddie Day Parade being in 1955. I commented back to them that I knew who the original winner was of the Kiddie Day Parade in 1955,” Franklin said, referring to Pat Wade and her brother riding in a cart pulled by a circus pony. “And I knew what the prize was. The prize was 50 silver dollars, which ... is almost $500 [today]. So that was a huge prize back then.
“... So we went a long way from [the prize] being 50 silver dollars in 1955 to doughnuts in the late ’50s. I was on the Joe Tilley Show a couple of weeks ago, and I made the announcement that I felt like we should have a bigger prize than doughnuts this year. So we’re giving away 50 presidential dollars. So whoever wins the Kiddie Day Parade this year will win 50 presidential dollars, and I got those from Century Bank.”
Along with Franklin serving as grand marshal, the event also will feature Cass High School’s JROTC Honor Guard, the Cartersville High School Marching Band and Safe Kids Bartow County Coordinator Brad Cothran, who will be dispersing complimentary bicycle helmets.
For more information about the parade, call Denham at 678-848-0016 or visit the Kiwanis Club of Cartersville’s Facebook page.