In a parade all their own, Kernersville children six and under will have the chance to march around Town Hall to celebrate Fourth of July during the annual Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.
The parade, which was started by Mary Mullinax, was first held in downtown Kernersville during the Farmers Market in 1983.
Mullinax, who was teaching preschool children at Main Street United Methodist Church at that time, said she was doing a project in which students painted flags for the holiday and finished off by having a parade in the church parking lot. Mullinax told the children they might be able to use their flag during the Kernersville Fourth of July Parade. However, the next day, one very unhappy little boy learned that he was too young to be in the parade, so Mullinax stuck to her word and invited children ages six and under to march around in their own parade at the Farmers Market’s former location in downtown Kernersville.
The parade, which was originally called the Children’s Parade, was changed to Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade in 1993 in honor of Mullinax, after the Kiwanis Club took over the event. Today, the parade averages anywhere from 40-75 children, depending on the weather.
Kiwanis Club member Bruce Boyer noted that as Kiwanis is a club that supports children, supporting Miss Mary’s Parade only seemed like the right thing to do.
“It really fits,” he said.
Since its inception, many Kernersville residents have enjoyed attending the parade, including David and Kristen Arnold and their youngest son, Justin, 3.
“Last year was our first year. We took our youngest son, Justin, who was two at the time,” David said. “He enjoyed getting to take home the flags and American flag beach ball.”
David shared that he personally enjoyed the size of the event.
“I enjoyed the closeness and smallness of it all. I also liked how the kids were made a part of the whole parade; they were the parade,” he stated. “It’s a great event because it focuses on the kids and teaches them what America is about. It helps our children learn to be proud.”
Boyer said he enjoys Miss Mary’s Parade for many reasons.
“I enjoy seeing the families come together and seeing children dressed in patriotic clothing and being pulled in a wagon by their mom and dad,” he said. “The children may not know much about patriotism, but they will remember it. Patriotism is learned and this reinforces at an early age how proud we are with the freedoms that we have.”
During Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade, the children march and ride around the Town Hall courtyard decorated with American flags.
During the event, children can see Uncle Sam and will receive a small American flag.
The parade will begin with a welcome from Mayor Pro Tem Joe Pinnix, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner, and the crowning of the Kernersville Fourth of July queen, who will then lead the parade. This year’s Fourth of July Queen is Katie Lakey.
Children are encouraged to come dressed in red, white and blue to show off their patriotism and to ride in decorated wagons, strollers and tricycles.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the parade stating at 10 a.m. No pets and no motorized vehicles are allowed.
Editor’s note: To read the story about the Fourth of July Queen, see the Thursday, June 25 edition of the Kernersville News.