Once a participant, she now will join her 2-year-old son, Knox, on the parade route Saturday. While his costume for this year’s offering still is a secret, this will be the third time Matthews’ child will enter the Cartersville event.
“I participated when I was little and it was always fun because it was just about kids having fun,” Matthews said. “There wasn’t a big agenda or formalities that you had to follow. ... You could show up in your favorite costume or on your bike and have fun. ... Then my brother had two children who are now 20 and 22, and we helped with them being in the Kiddie Day Parade.
“My brother is very creative and has a great eye for costumes and coming up with ideas. So when I had a child, he said, ‘You’re going to be in the Kiddie Day Parade aren’t you?’ and I said, ‘Well, of course.’ So he and his wife helped me and, in fact, we’ll be working on it tonight. So it’s just a tradition in our family. ... [And] we want to be a part of the group that continues the tradition. So that’s one of the big things is we want to make sure that it continues on for years to come. So the way we can help with that is by participating every year.”
Organized by the Kiwanis Club of Cartersville, the event provides youth up to fifth grade an opportunity to dress up in their favorite costumes. Participants can travel on decorated floats, bicycles, strollers and wagons. The parade will not require an admission fee or pre-registration.
“This is actually our 58th year doing the Kiddie Day Parade,” said Ken Bonney, past president for Kiwanis Club of Cartersville. “It’s mainly a fun event to give the children in Bartow County a chance to be a part of something that’s fun. It’s something that Kiwanis looks forward to every year and basically brings the community together and it focuses on the children here in Bartow County.
“The Kiwanis International, their focus is the children of the world and helping them. One of our big projects this year is called The Eliminate Project and it’s to eliminate neonatal tetanus in the world. So all our fundraising for the international purpose is for that drive now. Locally, we support children here in Bartow County with college scholarships through the Etowah Foundation and we also work with the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter in supporting them. So we are always focused on supporting the local children here in Bartow County as well as the [international] organization for Kiwanis.”
Registration and lineup for the parade will begin at 9 a.m. near the intersection of Bartow and Main streets, with judging following from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Starting at 10 a.m., the procession will travel down Main Street, then it will turn left on Tennessee Street, left on Cherokee Avenue and end at Friendship Plaza, where refreshments and prizes for the winners of each category will be dispersed. Last year’s grand-prize winner was Brylie Sanford, who featured a garden gnome theme.
For more information about the parade, call 770-386-2597 or visit the Kiwanis Club of Cartersville’s Facebook page.