GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Even before I came out of my shy, introverted shell in the mid 1980s, I loved a parade. I like to watch them, I think that's great entertainment, but most of all I like being in them. Starting when I was probably 8 years old, my friend Melanie Johnson Doody and I would ride her horses all the way from beyond First and Patterson down to Main Street and get in any parade we could. We weren't signed up or anything, I don't think we thought we had to be, we'd just join in. The parade officials must not have cared when they saw two scrappy little girls who'd ridden in from the country dressed up as cowboys one time or Indians. Then we'd ride home. I don't think our parents even knew we'd done it, like many of our escapades.
Melanie's wiener dog, Henry, made the newspaper one time but we never did. It was during the Foresight Festival Parade in May of 1963 and Hank, as Gay Johnson, called him for short, always followed us on the horses and this time he followed us all the way downtown. The report hails Henry a hero for going in and out of all the parading horses' hoofs like a pro; well, he was a pro.
Grand Junction has always been a parade town and when Operation Foresight redesigned Main Street to create a flowing serpentine, traffic-calming shopping park with plenty of nifty brick seats and planters for the ultimate in parade viewing, there seemed to be a downtown parade every weekend.
There were Homecomings, Veterans Day and the obsolete Fresh as a Daisy Parade. We've always had the Fourth of July Parade and the Rodeo Parade. The Parade of Lights is fairly new, starting in 1984. A parade was held for everything during the first half of the 20th Century - Armistice Day, Bike Day, Back to School, Elks Conventions, Band Competitions, The Diamond Jubilee, and in the olden days, the new acts at the Park Opera House advertised their production by parading around town. You name it, Grand Junction paraded it.
Dinosaur Days and the parade that kicked it off moved to Fruita, but before they did, I proudly exhibited myself on a fantastic float built and boarded by my Women's Auxiliary girls. The judges even admitted later that we should have won but they just couldn't award it to a group of cavewomen with a great volcano float who were a little tipsy at 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
This weekend marks the first parade of the year, the Grand Junction Lions Club Parade. This debacle of fun and frolic happens every year before the Carnival. And I'll be in it. I get to dress up and act crazy like the rest of the Lions Club members. Once a year, we get all costumed up, hand out candy and thrill the crowd. All for a good cause. All for you.
Don't miss it Saturday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. The theme is Hollyweird. I'll be the one with fruit on her head.
Got a parade memory or picture to share? Call me at 970-260-5226, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.