Crowds cheer at annual Hazel Dell Parade of Bands

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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Seven-year-old Addie Skinner sat perched on the curb of Hazel Dell Avenue Saturday morning as she watched marching bands, cheer leaders and people waving from vehicles go by her.

But it’s the ones throwing candy Addie was waiting for, and she came prepared. Behind her sat an easel designed to help her rake in more sweets.

“I drew a target so candy will hit it and will fall down and I can have it,” she said with a big smile.

Kids having fun is the point of the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands, parade co-chair Brad Lothspeich said. In its 53rd year, Saturday’s event brought 28 middle and high school bands to march the streets of Hazel Dell.

“For at least half of them, it’s the only parade they march in all year,” Lothspeich said. “We want to keep our young people engaged in the arts.”

And while the kids marching are meant to have fun, so are the kids that come out to watch. Some of them are just kids that have grown up.

Addie’s father, Brett Skinner, said he remembers being part of the parade as a member of the “juggling crew” at Hazel Dell Elementary.

Skinner, 33, said one of the biggest reason he wanted his children to experience the parade is because it exposes them to different groups and activities in the community.

A small sample of the things that passed by include: a Cub Scout troop, a 4H club walking with goats, a Special Olympics teams, local politicians, classic cars and the Clark County Fair Mounted Patrol.

“My favorite part is watching my kids interact with it all, seeing how happy they are,” Skinner said. “A lot of people go out of their way to make it special for the kids.”

The event, which has become a staple, closes streets and some businesses, Lothspeich said.

“None of them complain and they never have,” he said. Instead, they help sponsor the event and even take part in the parade.

“We appreciate the business support for the whole thing,” Lothspeich said. “It’s just part of the whole community spirit which we really appreciate.”

Cheerleaders shook their pom poms, color guards twirled their flags and dance team members swayed to the beat of the snare drums, tambourines and tubas. But they weren’t the only ones dancing.

Matt Vanderford, 31, donned a panda suit and danced to the passing music as he watched the parade from his father-in-law’s house on Hazel Dell Avenue.

“I saw this sitting in the basement and said, ‘I have to be a nut,'” Vanderford said. “I wanted to jump out and be goofy.”

In between dancing with the bands and occasionally high-fiving those on floats – including a fellow bear – Vanderford fired up the grill and fed his extended family throughout the afternoon.

“I just wanted to be silly,” he said. “It’s just fun.”