Columbia kicks off holiday season with Rockin' Holiday Parade

Sunday, November 18, 2012 | 7:05 p.m. CST; updated 8:17 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — Dogs and drums captivated hundreds of spectators as parents held back children excited to scoop up handfuls of candy on Broadway on Sunday afternoon.

Families lined the streets to watch the parade, which began at Stephens College and proceeded down Broadway to Fifth Street, for the Columbia Jaycees 33rd annual holiday parade.

This year's theme was Rockin' Holiday and included many local organizations that marched, rode and danced through downtown Columbia.

Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts participate every year, but this year was a special one. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America turned 100 this year and was honored as grand marshal.

"We usually like throwing candy, but we can't this year because we have to be dignified," said Jessica Fisher, 11, of Troop 30461 of Columbia. 

One of the Girl Scouts' props was a giant green box that read "The Gifts of Girl Scouting." Troop leader Sherrie Neff came up with the idea to represent their values.

"It's about lot more than selling cookies," Neff said.

Other girls carried wagons behind them featuring descriptions of their various service projects.

"It gives us a chance to show the representation of Girl Scouts in this community," Neff said.

Community outreach

Some organizations used the parade as an opportunity for community outreach.

Sheila Kausler walked down Broadway with plates full of cupcakes for paradegoers with a sweet tooth.

Kausler and other members of First Baptist Church on East Broadway were passing out the cupcakes outside of their church. The homemade treats were made by Kausler and her daughter.

"We made them for a recent baptism and they were a hit, so people asked us to make them again," Kausler said.

Those watching the parade could choose between flavors such as snickerdoodle and double chocolate.

"We would normally have hot cocoa, but the weather is so warm for this parade," Janet Kieffer, children’s ministry director of the church, said.

"We decided to do it as a community thing," Kieffer said.

Dogs Deserve Better, an organization that fosters chained and mistreated dogs, also used the event as a chance to reach out to the community.

This year was the group's first time at the holiday parade, and each representative was paired with a dog as they walked down Broadway. 

"We wanted to bring this cause to attention because lots of animals are chained," said Nicole Barkley, a doctoral student of animal sciences at MU.

Barkley said they needed lots of preparation before the parade because many of the dogs needed to be socialized to be ready for the large crowds and loud music.

Their float depicted the before-and-after scenes of a dog rescue. One side had a dirty kennel in a cold, outdoor setting. The other side showed their goal of giving dogs a happy home featuring a Christmas tree. Barkley played the role of a loving owner, cuddled up next to a beagle on a lounge chair.

A crowd favorite

The Missouri Highsteppers performed at the parade. Their performance included precise, drill-style dance moves along with a drumline.

The group has existed for more than 30 years, led by Rolando Barry. Several people at the parade mentioned the Highsteppers as a highlight of their experience.

Barry’s daughter Lexi, 16, has been stepping as long as she can remember.

“Parades like this give us a chance to bring something new to the table," Lexi said. "New steps, new reactions.”

"But the crowd is the best part, and our veteran front line is always ready to perform.”

This front line included steppers Laianna, 13, Consolee, 14 and Precious, 12, and Da’Kia, 11, who have been stepping for several years and led the group down Broadway. 

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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