As entrants in the Fred Murphy Pioneer Days Parade rolled past 15th Street, Chad Oakland was riding behind the Idaho Mule Packers in a souped-up golf cart.
Oakland isn’t just another a parade entry. He’s cruising for road apples.
A buddy of the young Coeur d’Alene real estate broker roped Oakland into being a pooper scooper for the annual event.
“When he asked me, I thought it was a joke,” Oakland said. “He’s going to owe me now. Big time.”
Beneath the roof of the cart probably wasn’t a bad place to be for Saturday’s parade, which left most of the participants and brave spectators cold and wet from the morning drizzle.
But despite the inclement weather, event organizers said that only one group canceled - a fife and drum group worried the persistent wet would damage their expensive wooden instruments. Some 80 other entrants were on hand, including floats from the Calgary Stampede in Alberta to stampedes of smiling young gymnasts turning cartwheels, performing handstands, and - thanks to volunteers like Oakland - avoiding occasional obstacles.
“Even with the threat of rain, we’re going to go ahead with this,” said parade manager Stephen Gregory, racing around Sherman Avenue and taking pictures of the participants.
Louise Shadduck was this year’s parade grand marshal. She and “the world’s best neighbors” - Ryan and Kelly Hunter, ages 6 and 8, and Danny Griffin, 8, skirted high waters near their Mica Bay homes for the event.
The historian, author and expert on all things Coeur d’Alene - and her three friends rode in a stately gray carriage behind a giant Percher on draft horse.
“It’s really a big honor,” Shadduck said, daring the weather to dampen the event’s good mood.
“Coeur d’Alene is a parade town anyway.”
Farther back in the heart of the parade column, which stretched several blocks, floats from both the Spokane Lilac Festival and Coeur d’Alene’s sister city in Cranbrook, British Columbia, rumbled into motion. Just behind, a posse of appaloosa horses - and a rare Peruvian Paso pony - moved forward in tight formation.
“We’re the ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’ gang,” shouted John McGruder, explaining the five riders were there for the spirit and camaraderie. “Everybody should be in a parade.”
The “Red Hot Mamas” filed past, pushing shopping carts. The young ladies wore hats retrofitted with assorted food boxes, as well as lilac-colored dresses to mimic the style of a highly caffeinated June Cleaver.
They were followed by a pair of trucks laden with members of the Lilac City Gymnastics Club. Older athletes spun on a high bar, while the younger ones tumbled on mobile mats.
“We usually have a trampoline on there,” said boys coach Scott Satterfield, who wiped the bar after each routine. “But we felt that might be too dangerous today, with the rain. As if this isn’t crazy enough.”
Another gymnastics group, the Funtastics, performed more street-bound stunts. Behind them, Mike Ward rode the high-wheeler bicycle a friend designed for him six years ago. Ward has spruced it up a bit with streamers in the giant front wheel.
“How’s the rain?” he shouted down to water-weary onlookers. “It’s snowing up at this elevation.”
Spectator turnout was low this year, but those who braved the weather looked to be enjoying themselves as they sought refuge under the eaves of shops.
Judi Herrmann and her daughter, Cris, arrived a little late and missed the start, but said they were impressed with Coeur d’Alene’s pizazz.
Robert Rohlmeyer and his wife Jennifer treated their two young boys to their first parade. The family moved here from San Diego this year, so it’s hard to tell if Chris, 2, and Dan, 4, were more astounded by the floats, fire trucks and marching bands, or by the late-spring rain.
“It looks like there are a lot of diehards out here,” said Robert Rohlmeyer, learning perhaps the first rule of life - and parades - in the Pacific Northwest. “I guess in Idaho, you have to kind of work around it.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos
MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition.