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Sun, April 21

Just For Kids
Children enjoy parade featuring themselves

Brooke, the Ms. Kingman scholarship pageant winner, lays back in her wagon as her brother, Anthony, pulls her up and down Beale Street Saturday during a children’s parade in Downtown Kingman. Photo: NICHOLAS WILBUR/Miner

Brooke, the Ms. Kingman scholarship pageant winner, lays back in her wagon as her brother, Anthony, pulls her up and down Beale Street Saturday during a children’s parade in Downtown Kingman. Photo: NICHOLAS WILBUR/Miner

KINGMAN - It's been 20 years since the children in the community had a parade in which they were the main attraction.

On Dec. 2, the Downtown Merchants Association hosted the Parade of Lights to officially kick off the holiday season. It may be true that all parades are for the kids, but on Saturday, on the same street, about a hundred people gathered to watch their kids, siblings and friends take the spotlight on Beale Street downtown.

About 50 children entered the parade. They dressed as shepherds and angels, reindeer and elves. The sun was shining, warming their backs, as they waited in anticipation, pacing in circles at the corner of Beale Street and Second Avenue, for the minute hand to climb to the top of the hour.

But it wasn't just the children whose hearts raced with excitement. "We've been waiting a week for this," said Darnell Olszewski, whose daughter, Magenta, wearing a Santa stocking cap, had decorated her trike with a Christmas cow and poinsettia flowers for the parade.

"I'm almost more excited than the kids," she said moments before liftoff.

When the organizer gave the go-ahead at 10 a.m. sharp, the light turned green and bright-faced children of all ages flooded through Downtown Kingman in what looked more like a Christmas race than a parade.

"I wanted two or three families to go at one time, but when one started moving, they all went," said Karl Kettlehut, parade organizer and owner of Kettlehut Antiques downtown.

When they reached Fifth Avenue the parade was supposed to end. But the kids, having the youthful character that makes them so inspiring, changed the rules according to their own hearts' desires and turned their bicycles, sleighs, wagons and strollers around and headed back. Some even took a third waltz down the parade runway as a Christmas clown in a miniature fire truck winded between the small clusters of children.

Kettlehut feared some of the little ones wouldn't have enough candy, but by the time they'd reached Third Avenue, they found themselves trudging through the scattered peppermint candies and suckers that covered the pavement. "It's just something beautiful to see," said Bruce Olszewski.

"People are getting away from it…so it's nice to see people bring back the traditions."

Santa Claus came down from the North Pole to help with the parade, he said. But "(Mrs. Claus) had to stay home and take care of the reindeer."

Hair salon owner K.C. Roberts opened her store, KC's Cut Ups at 206 E Beale St., for children to meet Santa and pass on their Christmas wishes from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. She even had "secret service elves" dressed in camouflage walking among the children, helping out and taking pictures.

Even little Brooke, the Ms. Kingman scholarship pageant winner this year, showed up for the parade. Like a true queen, Brooke's brother Anthony, dressed in a reindeer costume, shuttled her around as she lay back in her wagon and waved. Next year, Kettlehut said, he's shooting for the children's parade to preface the Downtown Merchants' Parade of Lights.

But after 20 years of the celebration being dormant, he's planning to keep it going after a good showing this winter.

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