CARTHAGE, Mo. — It won’t be the two-hour, 200-entry marathon that the Maple Leaf parade has become over the years, but there will be a parade in Carthage on the third Saturday in October.
Cherry Babcock, owner of Cherry’s Art Emporium and the Woodshed restaurant, said she took it hard when the Carthage Chamber of Commerce in August canceled the Maple Leaf parade because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so she decided to see if something could be put together in its place.
The result is the Maple Leaf City Minibration Parade, slated for 9:30 a.m. Saturday and running from 11th street to Centennial Avenue on historic Grand Avenue in Carthage.
“People are really excited,” Babcock said. “People are happy we are doing it. ...We’re encouraging social distancing along Grand Avenue, and we’re encouraging people to wear masks if they want. We just felt the community deserved some kind of parade, especially this year.”
Babcock said she had 40 entries ready to march as of Thursday morning, and people can sign up as late as Friday afternoon. For information, go to "Save the Maple Leaf Parade 2020" on Facebook or contact Babcock at the Woodshed.
Babcock said she estimates the parade will last about 30 minutes and run exactly half a mile on Grand Avenue.
“The Carthage VFW is providing a color guard and other vehicles,” she said. “I’ve got Shriners, M&M Wrecker’s Big Blue (and) D&D Sexton’s patriotic show truck and trailer. We couldn’t get any bands, so I’ll have a trailer with a music system playing patriotic music on the route.”
She said the group couldn’t afford the insurance to cover horses or all-terrain vehicles, so those won't be in the parade, either.
Babcock said police Chief Greg Dagnan and fire Chief Roger Williams will be honored as co-grand marshals of the parade.
“The theme of our parade is ‘Show Your Patriotism,’” she said. “What better way than showing appreciation for the guys who lay their lives on the line every day for us? Because those are my hometown heroes.”
Williams and Dagnan both said they were humbled and honored by the gesture.
“It’s always an honor to be considered for something like that, and I truly appreciate it,” Williams said. “It’s something we’ll remember, that’s for sure. 2020 is definitely a year to remember. By honoring me, she’s honoring the department; that’s how Greg is approaching it, too. The guys deserve it, and it’ll be fun.”
“The way I look at it is it’s not really 'Greg Dagnan' who's the grand marshal,” Dagnan added. “The organizers of the parade really wanted to thank first responders, so as far as me representing the first responders, that’s really neat.”
Maple Leaf cancellation
The Carthage chamber announced earlier this year that it was canceling the parade because of a lack of entries and the possibility of spreading the novel coronavirus in Carthage. Chamber officials said in late July they had only a fraction of the entries that they normally received at that time leading up to the parade.
All school marching bands that normally perform in the parade prior to the Maple Lead Band Festival had canceled, forcing cancellation of the band festival itself, and officials said businesses that traditionally create floats weren't going to be able to gather the groups of employees needed for those projects.
But the chamber is moving forward with a number of other events related to Carthage’s famous festival. The Maple Leaf cruise night and swap meet will start at noon today, and the car show and swap meet will start at 8 a.m. Saturday, both at Kellogg Lake Park.
The Maple Leaf tractor show will be held at Central Park. An arts and crafts show with live music, food and a kids' corner will be held Saturday on the Carthage square. These events will start at 9 a.m., with live music starting at 11 a.m.