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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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2017 Junior Lilac Parade brings generations together

UPDATED: Sat., May 13, 2017

For the Rose family, the Spokane Junior Lilac Parade has become something of a tradition.

“Oh honey, you’re jogging my memory,” said Penny Rose, who sat with her family on folding chairs along the edge of Spokane Falls Boulevard. Penny marched in the Junior parade back in 1969, she said, just 17 years after the event was established.

“I played the saxophone,” she said.

Next to her, her son Kevin nodded. “I was trumpet,” he said. That was the Junior Lilac Parade of 1989.

And this year? “We’re here to see my granddaughter,” Penny said. At 10, the youngest Rose addition to the parade, Shaylynne, isn’t quite old enough to march in a band, Penny said. Instead, she was part of the Girl Scouts troop.

“But she’ll start playing (an instrument) soon,” Penny said. “She’s got her eye on the clarinet.”

Families, friends and casual observers turned out in droves for the 2017 Junior Lilac Parade, which marched through sunny, if somewhat chilly weather in downtown Spokane Saturday morning. They lined sidewalks along Riverfront Park and Main Avenue, settled in camp chairs of perched in the backs of parked pickup trucks as band after band rolled by, thumping out rock ‘n roll classics and modern themes.

For the most part, the bands marched in lock step. But Josiah Bushebi, of Northwest Christian School, paused just long enough to raise his hand to his dad, who was snapping a picture from the sidewalk.

“He loves music,” said his mother, Maria Bushebi, of her son, as the dad went racing away to get more shots of the band. “He’s playing the baritone sax for this, but he plays the alto as well.”

A few groups took an alternative spin on the theme of uniforms. East Valley Middle School showed up in costume, with more than a few capes, wings and horse’s heads bobbing among the instruments. Sacajawea Middle School’s band sported zombie makeup.

The crowd kept to the sidewalks, participating through their applause. But when an Evergreen Middle School saxophonist lost her crown mid-way through a set of the Lion King’s “Just Can’t Wait to be King” theme, Jay Johnson darted into the street, swept it up and placed it back on her head.

“Happy to help,” he said.

Johnson didn’t have family in the parade this year, although he does have an 11-year old daughter, he said. His reason for coming out? “It’s a great way to start the morning,” he said.

Elsewhere, at Riverfront Park, Moses the dromedary camel – who came to the Junior Lilac Parade fair as a member of the Cute as a Bug petting zoo – was doing some marching of his own. Decked out in trappings and saddle, he meandered around his fenced enclosure while an elated, if somewhat nervous looking youngster swayed on his back.

“They get excited for this,” said zoo employee Gwenn Hecket, of the camels. “This is fun for them, too.”

Moses’ co-worker, Tex, took the opportunity to sprawl in the sun, munching the fresh green grass.

“They’re hardy creatures,” said Jeannene Christ, owner of Cute as a Bug. “In their native habitat, they’d be subsisting on desert scrub.”

“Spokane’s a pretty good place to be a camel,” she added.

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