"The Kiddie Day Parade is one of the first things I remember seeing in Cartersville when I moved here 32 years ago," said Linda Denham, chairman of the Kiddie Day Parade and president elect of Kiwanis. "I just thought, 'It's the cutest thing.' I can remember sitting on the curb in front of [Stein's Department Store] watching the parade. My 85-year-old neighbor brought me. She was excited about it. So it's just something that we have viewed every year. In the beginning I didn't know who started it, how you got in it or if it was available for anybody to be in the parade.
"We just went to the parade. Then later on my husband and I joined the Kiwanis Club and found out that it was in fact their parade. So our children [started] participating in it. They just have so much fun. ... One of the saddest moments for my oldest grandchild was the year he was in the fifth grade. He said, 'I can't do this next year can I?'"
The upcoming parade will not require an admission fee or pre-registration. Registration and lineup will begin at 9 a.m. and the costume award presentation will commence following the parade. Starting at 10 a.m., the procession will travel from the intersection of Bartow and Main streets down Main Street, then it will turn left on Tennessee Street, left on Cherokee Avenue and end at the Founders Oak Park's fountain.
With the offering starting in the 1950s, local Kiwanis Club President Ken Bonney is pleased that the annual event has become a tradition for many families in the community.
"The whole focus is to celebrate children and to also have some fun and enjoy the festivities. ... We see a lot of folks come out that will tell us stories about how they were in the Kiddie Day Parade years ago and now here they are bringing their kids and grandkids," Bonney said. "I don't have a lot of history with it because I wasn't here when I was a child, but just hearing from the community and the parents, it sounds like it was an annual event that people participated in. It's been something the community looks forward to every year."
The annual offering also ties in with the service organization's mission to assist children, Bonney said.
"Our primary focus is for the betterment and the good of children and developing different programs that will help them," he said, adding some of the local club's contributions include sponsoring the Cartersville High School Key Club, awarding two annual scholarships through the Etowah Scholarship Foundation and organizing a pizza party every month at Flowering Branch children's shelter. "It's all focussed around taking care of kids and making sure kids are cared for properly, [that] they have the right tools and the right equipment and the right roof over their heads. There's so many different projects and organizations that Kiwanis is involved in that go to help children, and that's the whole focus of Kiwanis."
For more information about the parade, call Denham at 770-386-2597.