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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Going strong at 107, Hillyard parade has hijinks for the whole neighborhood

UPDATED: Sat., Aug. 4, 2018

By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Regular attendees and newcomers lined Market Street in Hillyard for the 107th Hi-Jinx Parade on Saturday morning under sunny but hazy skies.

The Hillyard Festival has been known by many names over the years, including Hillyard Days and Jim Hill Days, and has been running since 1911. The three-day festival is held every year on the first weekend in August.

Gene Lane, who had a prime spot on the sidewalk staked out with his family, said he’s been coming to the festival since 1963. “We’ve lived right around this neighborhood ever since,” he said.

Before his wife, Betty, died in 2008, the couple would spend a lot of time during the festival in Harmon Park at Market and Decatur Avenue playing Lions Club bingo, which is still offered every year, he said.

He arrived on Market Street shortly after 9 a.m. to wait for the 10 a.m. parade. “It’s a small parade,” he said. “It’s fun.”

P.J. Jackson brought her 2-year-old daughter to watch the parade for the first time. They’ve attended Hillyard Festival events in the park before, but were always busy during the parade in previous years.

“I like it,” Jackson said. “It’s close. It’s easy to walk to. I wanted to bring her to have fun and play and get out of the house.”

There were plenty of families and dogs lining the street as the procession got underway. The parade had a small-town feel, crystallized in a child in a Darth Vader mask riding by in a little red wagon, a toy lightsaber waving in his hand.

Local businesses, veterans groups and nonprofit organizations made an appearance among the marchers, along with jacked-up SUVs, low-rider Chevy Luv pickups, motorcycles, the Lilac Festival float and, of course, horses.

Some groups tossed out candy or even frozen Otter Pops, but one unnamed group pushing shopping carts was inexplicably throwing rolls of toilet paper to the crowd.

More than a dozen political candidates helped stretch out the parade to nearly an hour.

Donna Gilbrech-McGown was an active parade watcher, waving, cheering and shouting support to those who walked or rode by. She’s been coming to the parade with childhood friends for the past five years but has fond memories of attending the parade every year when she was a little girl living in the neighborhood.

“I love the parade,” she said. “I love Hillyard.”

Gilbrech-McGown was also in the parade a few times as a child. “I had a little red wagon,” she said. “I would just dress funny and pull my dog and my sister was with me.”

She said one of the highlights for her is seeing Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who participates in the parade every year. As Knezovich approached, she shouted to him and blew him a kiss. “Hi, Ozzie!” she said. “I love you! You’ve got my vote, sweetheart!”

Once the parade ended, it was off to Harmon Park for many to watch the live entertainment, visit vendors, buy food and play bingo. “That’s my favorite thing,” said Gilbrech-McGown. “I go shopping.”

The festival also includes kids’ games, crafts and a beer garden. Sunday’s events include a nondenominational church service at 9:30 a.m. and the second annual Roll “N” Hillyard Car Show at noon.

Hillyard Festival hours in Harmon Park continue Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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