Wallingford's Kiddies Parade – 60th Anniversary

Number 60.  At least that is what the announcements for this year’s parade proposed.  The first photo shown here may well be of that first kiddies parade sixty years past. If someone takes the time to read through the tabloid North Central Outlooks for the summer of 1950 this may be confirmed.  Stan Stapp, long time publisher-editor of the Outlook and also Wallingford’s greatest public historian, loaned me a copy of this record of single-filed kiddies marching west into the intersection of 45th Street and Wallingford Avenue, the neighborhood’s signature cross-roads.

(Click to enlarge photos)

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Wallingford Kiddies parade down the center of 45th Street only, probably from 1950, and surely from the courtesy of Stan Stapp.

The rest of the photographs included are from this year’s parade, which like all others was promoted as “All About Kids” by Seafair and our neighborhood’s powers of concern.  All about kids – almost.  This year, at least, it was also about five old men with beards whom you see in the next photograph.  Unfortunately, I can no longer remember who stopped to take my camera and snap it.  I was in a state of high anticipation for the parade and very pleased to be posing with the complete retinue or cabal of the parade’s Grand Marshals near the front door of Al’s Tavern off of Corliss. (It was morning and the tavern was not open.)  It is there, north and south from 45th on Corliss that the parade’s parts were first staged and then one-by-one sent west on 45th for a six-block procession that took about 15 minutes to walk or roll.

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We can pull an imperfect caption for the above photograph from the description made by the parade’s announcer or master of ceremonies from a stage in front of the Wallingford Center.  As we rolled by in our borrowed carriage, a 1961 Mercedes convertible coup, (and so only eleven years  younger than the parade,) this good humored although confused voice of Seafair described us in an order that also fits how we are posing here from left to right.

“First we have Dick Barnes, Wallingford farmer.  Wave Dick.  Then we have Pat Dorpat . . . correction.  Paul Dorpat, Wallingford walker and public historian.  Next is Dick [actually David] Notkin, 25 years at the U.W. [and now Professor and Bradly Chair of Computer Science & Engineering Department], then our very own Charlotte Trelease, their chauffeur.  [This is a mistake by half.  She may be theirs but Charolette can be seen to be also one of ours, the five guys with gray beards.]  And (finally) Nancy the tree lady.”  [That is Nancy “Appleseed” Merrill who is responsible for the planting of so many of our new trees along the neighborhood’s parking strips.  It was Nancy who produced our parade part, supplied the shinier beards and designed the identifying signs.  It was also Nancy who taught us how to wave like festival princesses with just a slight rotating – and not flapping - at the wrist.]

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Nancy's inspiration - a clip of herself from 1984
Nancy in white beard and Statue of Liberty cap
Nancy in white beard and Statue of Liberty cap

The Seafair announcer then concludes our part,  “Nancy wants to remind you to water your trees.  These are the Grand Marshals of the 59th Annual Wallingford parade.”  At was at this moment from his position on the trunk, David in red expressed for all of us, “I knew we would be great, but I did not know about the grand.”

Jean’s pix of us in the Mercedes.
Jean’s pix of us in the Mercedes.

We were liked – as we gently coasted down 45th, applauded and hailed.  Someone shouted to Charlotte, “Can I have your car?” And she called back, “It comes with the beard.” At another point the promenading Nancy walked boldly beyond the Mercedes and briefly in front of it and then return to her position beside its starboard side confessing to all of our great amusement, “I almost ran over myself.” At the intersection with Bagley my friends Sally Anderson and Jay Miller – who live up the block cozily side-by-side – were surprised to see me and shouted their good wishes, which I answered with an order that they kneel, which they did not.  In fact throughout the parade no one went to their knees or even bowed for these marshals.

Mercedes and Nancy with Theatres behind. Photo by Ray Burdick.
Mercedes and Nancy with Theatres behind. Photo by Ray Burdick.

But we were laughed at a good deal, and anything any of our quintet shared with the other four was thought to be funny, and may have been funny by some law of humor relativity in which feeling good encourages the comic vision over the tragic one.  At one point I turned around to David and Dick who – you can see – were sitting behind me on the trunk and noted, “Tomorrow this will all be a dream.”  David wisely answered, “What do you mean? It is a dream now.”   It was a Wallingford version for the Warholesque celebrity dream – this time twenty minutes or six blocks of fame while rolling by our loving neighbors.

Photo by Sally Anderson
Photo-Montage by Sally Anderson

Our part in this Kiddies parade was near its end in the concluding motorcade of odd vehicles including one with more Seafair clowns.  The parade pictures that follow in thumbnail can all be moused or clicked for enlargements.  Most of them were taken by Jean (of this blog) who took a break from his three weeks of running a drama camp at Hillside School in Bellevue.  Perhaps he was still buoyant from that other parade, which he so wonderfully recorded and exhibited here, the Fremont Solstice Parade.   Other photographers included Ray Burdick, Sally Anderson and myself.  If you don’t see these names you know Jean took it.

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I nearly missed this parade.  Our part started without me for I was away – but not too far to find me – interviewing an old friend about the brilliance of his first grand daughter who was with him.  “Off the charts” is how he put it.  I also interviewed – and during the parade as we “Grand Marshals” waited to take out part – David, the uniformed actual marshal who was in charge of organizing the pre-parade line-up on Corliss and then releasing the groups one by one down 45th Street.

After he had sent one of the marching corps with his repeated advice “Enjoy the parade,” I approached him and asked, “How’s the size of this year’s parade?”  With the political grace of someone who knows to answer a question from both sides, he replied, “Actually it is pretty much similar to the rest of the years.  I think we have a couple more units this year.  It’s about the same size.  It’s grown every year.  I’ve only been a marshal for a couple of years now, but as far as I know this is one of the older parades that we do.  At last count there are about forty neighborhood parades.  They begin near the end of March and continue to the end of September.”

At this point David’s mother, who was also in a nautical Seafair uniform, came forward and embraced me.  I recognized her, and immediately thought – but did not ask – perhaps it was she who promoted me as a non-working marshal.   I asked her, “You are really in charge here aren’t you?”  She answered. “Oh no-no.  David and Kate are in charge. (I did not see Kate although I had corresponded with her earlier.)  I am in charge of their support groups.”  It seemed like quibbling to me.

So I turned to David again, and without asking he answered, “Mom is the HMIC, the Head Marshal in Command.”  Then someone – perhaps his mom – sent a signal to a small device strapped to his shoulder.  It was time to release the next group – Family Works was its name – down the promenade.  He advised, “You should be ready to go.  Have a great parade. Have a great parade.”

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