OGDEN — Lining up a couple hundred kids for the Ogden Pioneer Days Children’s Parade is worse than wrangling cats, one harried adult says.
“Cats don’t talk back,” she said.
Cats also don’t keep taking their cowboy hat off and tossing it on the ground, and they don’t ride their bicycles pell mell through the crowd.
Pandemonium barely describes the parade assembly area Saturday morning: The chatter of small voices filled the air. A tiny pedal car with tin cans dragging behind it rattled. Bicycle spokes glittered with crepe paper. A troupe of dancers kicked in rhythm.
The annual parade was one of several Pioneer Days inaugural events filling downtown Ogden Saturday morning. The Farmers Market kicked off its season with cowboy shootouts, stagecoach robberies and a tractor show, all operating amid sidewalks and closed streets jammed with people.
The stagecoach robbery was performed by the Weber County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse.
Posse members did it in the best traditions of Lone Ranger movies: A horse-drawn stagecoach is halted by gun-firing desperadoes. The passengers, all damsels in distress, are hijacked from the wagon by masked bandits who force the helpless women to drag a strongbox filled with candy down the street.
The good guys, other posse members, race onto the scene, guns blazing, scaring away the bad guys and rescuing the women.
Then they all shake hands and get ready to do it again. As if to emphasize that it is all in fun, one deputy hugs one of the bandits.
The Children’s Parade is a mildly organized event now seeing people who marched as children helping their own children march.
Theresa Walton and her sister, Angel Manus, watched as their kids and some of their friends readied bicycles to ride in the parade, checking tiny American flags taped to the handlebars.
The two women rode in the parade when they were kids, and now their kids are in it. “We’ve been doing it for years,” Walton said.
What was it like back when they were kids? “The same, pretty much,” Manus said. “Getting to ride our bikes in the parade, getting free tickets to the rodeo.”
Robin Parent was busy rigging the large Parent Clan entry, a cowboys-and-Indians theme centered around a tepee in a small wagon surrounded by her 12 grandchildren.
The boys were cowboys, the girls were Indian maidens, all in costumes made by Robin Parent.
Parent’s youngest grandson, Kayden Thomas, was sitting on a hobby horse in the wagon. He seemed to think his hat and pistol belonged on the ground, so that’s where he kept putting them, to the frustration of a sister who kept picking them up.
“All of their mothers were in the Children’s Parade years and years ago,” said Robin Parent, and she made their costumes, too.
Julie Tovar watched her granddaughter, Julieta, 3, try to keep up with the bigger girls in the Corner Barber Shop dance team. They were all decked out in purple and white, but Julieta was about 3 feet shorter than all the rest and so would kick, swing her arms, then run over to Tovar for comfort.
Tovar pointed to Jennifer Pratt, leading the group.
“You know, this is her 30th year in the parade. She’s teaching my grandkids now.”
She said she’s caring for her two grandkids and one of her own children.
“My house was foreclosed, and now I’m homeless.”
She’s living with relatives as she can, so being in the parade is a special treat for the kiddies, she said.
“I have to brag how well they’re doing through all the turmoil in our lives,” Tovar said. “Straight A’s in school. We’re keeping it together.”
The time to start the parade arrived, and everyone headed out. One child in an battery-powered kiddie car almost ran over two others. A girl riding a Segway scooter and costumed to look like a dragonfly eased down the road. Little kids wearing Batman capes skittered hither and yon on tricycles.
Behind it all, Ogden resident Staci Burns walked, trying spot her son in a tie-dyed T-shirt half a block ahead.
The sidewalks were almost empty of viewers, but the street was full — and that’s what matters, Burns said.
“It’s just for them, and that’s what’s cool about it.”