Town’s Red, White and Blue Parade continues support of area children [UPDATED]Published 9:33am Tuesday, June 4, 2013 Updated 11:35am Tuesday, June 4, 2013
The early childhood classroom at Ashby Public School is silent for the summer, with the lights turned off and chairs set on top of desks — a stark contrast to a room filled with energetic children.
On July 5, however, that energy will take to the streets when the city gathers for the 15th annual Red, White and Blue Parade. The event has become a hallmark for a community deeply invested in the future of its children.
“It’s fun to see all the kids playing together afterwards,” said Heather Dewey, Early Childhood Coordinator and teacher at Ashby Public School. “But it’s good to see the community so invested in our children because they are our future.”
The parade began with 14 young children from Arlyn and Ruth Benson’s daycare in Ashby and has continued to grow ever since. This year, 150 children are expected to make the walk from the fire hall down Main Street until they reach Thorson-Larson Park. Held on the Friday closest to the Fourth of July, the children dress up in red, white and blue to show their patriotism.
“It doesn’t look like a typical parade with cars and everything,” Dewey laughed. “But the kids like to be the center of attention too and not just sitting on the sidelines.”
Residents of the small town have a long history of support for the event. Dewey, who is from Ashby, said families plan their vacations around the day so they can attend. While the smell of grilled hot-dogs and other picnic foods wafts through the city streets, parents and children of all ages, many in painted faces and dressed in the country’s colors, march and wave flags.
This year, the committee expects to feed between 400 and 500 people at the community picnic after the parade.
The community also holds a deep respect for the parade’s origin. When Arlyn Benson passed away in 2012, that year’s parade, blocked by road construction, followed in procession to the cemetery. The cheer of children paid respect to a source of so much support in town. His wife Ruth still works with the event.
This year, the parade will expand its mission with children. A free will offering at the picnic, sponsored by the Ashby Lions, along with a bike raffle put on by the Ashby Community Club, will raise money for the school’s early childhood program.
“I think it’s crucial just to keep the community lively and to show how many kids they are supporting,” Dewey said. “It’s showing the community what a great impact they have with this event.”
The parade begins at 5 p.m. All children and families from area communities are invited to attend.