JOPLIN, Mo. —
As drum major Asa Hamilton called the Joplin North Middle School Band to attention at 24th and Main streets, a tuba player was missing — he was searching with a flashlight for a lost mouthpiece in a nearby vacant lot.
Whether he found it in time to play “Feliz Navidad” in the annual Joplin Christmas Parade or whether his tuba was silent for the duration is anyone’s guess, but the band marched as planned and at the judge’s station at Sixth and Main streets drew loud cheers from spectators.
The band was one of 150 entries in this year’s version of the Joplin Jaycees’ annual parade, with many entries that each featured a slightly different mode of transportation. There were gymnasts with The Flip Shop who walked down Main Street on their hands for the majority of the route, and there was Sabrina Purkey and Amber Truitt rolling along in their shabby chic “Two Friends & Junk” entry — a 1969 pink Chevrolet truck pulling a 1968 Scotty camper.
A dozen women with Mo-Kan Roller Derby Girlz each used eight wheels to traverse Main Street from 24th to First Street, and then sprinted back to where they parked for a distance of four miles.
“This is awesome!” a few yelled as they passed.
Austin Gilbert, a member of the Missouri Southern State University cheerleading squad, traveled the parade from a Flip Shop trampoline on a flatbed truck and reached heights of about 20 feet.
In front of the Frisco Building, he went beyond the traffic lights, and nearly reached the second story.
“Oh no — oh my — oh — wow!” said spectator Brenda Wright nervously from the curb, worried that he’d go over the edge. It was the Webb City woman’s first time in attendance.
“I came with my husband, Ron, to see my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren ride on a float for Burkhart Construction,” she said. “They’ll be coming any minute.”