Bowdish Middle School wasted no time in showcasing its musical chops Saturday.
At the front of the 67th Junior Lilac Parade in downtown Spokane, the school’s band opened its march down the sunny streets of Spokane Falls Boulevard with a crisp rendition of Walk the Moon’s “Shut up and dance with me.”
Dozens of other middle school and elementary school bands – many clad in old farming clothes as part of the parade’s “Turn Up! for Hoedown” theme – followed with crowd-pleasing tunes of their own.
Sporting flannels, cowboy hats and jeans, East Valley Middle School was a block behind Bowdish, playing Rendex’s popular “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
Emma Thornock, a seventh-grader and saxophone player at East Valley Middle School, didn’t have to look too hard for the proper attire.
“I live on a farm,” Thornock said. “So I already had it.”
But the preparation for the parade, she said, wasn’t as easy.
“We’ve been working on this for about three months,” Thornock said. “And I thought it went real well. It was fun to come out there and play.”
For decades, the Junior Lilac Parade has served as a platform for Spokane-area schoolchildren to showcase their talent, withdrill and cheerleading units, youth leaders, bands and other clubs.
A couple of dozen students from Franklin Elementary put on a boot-scootin’ dancing clinic to the amused delight of the hundreds of patrons who lined the streets. The children, also wearing cowboy hats and “Deputy” T-shirts, showed off their line-dancing skills to a medley of up-tempo country songs.
The boots kicked up through near 80-degree temperatures.
“Keep it up, kids, you’re doing great,” came the call from the group’s leader. “I know it’s hot out, but you’re almost done.”
Political campaigns were also part of the parade, including Republican state representative candidate Dave Lucas. He and a dozen supporters were shaking hands and waving signs as they marched.
About 30 school buses lined the front of Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, ready to take the sprawls of children back to their respective schools after the parade.
“It’s great to be able to give them this experience,” said Matt Thistle, East Valley music teacher.
“Ninety-nine percent of the kids have awesome attitudes and have been working very hard for this.”
Bowdish band teacher Gail Phillips agreed.
“A lot of kids this age haven’t marched before, so memorizing music and keeping the beat, they’re still learning,” Phillips said. “It’s a great thing for them so when they’re in high school, they’ll be ready.”
In a crowded Riverfront Park, petting zoos and camel rides were offered near the skating ribbon, which was host to a drone race. Miniature aircraft zipped through and around the rink.
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