Snohomish Easter parade has all the frills upon it

SNOHOMISH — The candy is ready to pass out, the decorative floats are set to roll and the colorful bonnets are coming out Saturday for the city’s Easter tradition.

The 34th annual Snohomish Easter parade is scheduled to roll down First Street at 11 a.m. Some 3,000 spectators are expected to watch the procession through the city’s historic downtown.

Snohomish Chamber of Commerce Manager Pam Osborne said she believes it is one of only a few remaining Easter parades in the country.

“This is one of those traditions that has lasted because it is so much a little, hometown parade,” she said.

This year, about 60 entrants are lining up for the parade that allows anyone to participate. Candy is expected to be carefully passed out.

“Since our police chief got hit in the head with candy several years ago, we no longer throw it,” Osborne said.

The Easter Bunny is set to lead the parade. A bonnet contest is scheduled to follow. People and pets are expected to don the hats they created and ride on a float to show them off.

“People along the route can see all those pretty hats,” Osborne said.

Before the parade, an Easter egg hunt for children in preschool through sixth grade is to be held at 9 a.m. at the Faith Assembly Church.

About 50 volunteers help put on the festivities. A 10-member committee works for about three months to plan the events.

The chamber started the parade in 1980 as a way to attract people to businesses in the downtown area, Osborne said. Organizers enlisted the help of the community.

The original Easter Bunny costume was tailored to fit the parade’s first mascot, Marie Calozza, who was then working at the Snohomish Tribune. For many years she led the way, greeting children as the parade passed.

Now, a different Tribune employee is chosen to don the costume every year.

The Snohomish Jaycees chapter, a civic group for people ages 18 to 40, organized parade entries until the organization disbanded in the 1990s. One member, Duncan Kirk, continues to supervise the line up.

In the early 1990s, the bonnet contest was added as a way to encourage spectator involvement. People make the headdresses to win prizes.

“They get very creative,” Osborne said.

She recalls unusual bonnets, including one fashioned out of a birdcage and another that looked like the Eiffel Tower. There were other stand outs, such as a beehive bonnet, one with farm animals on it and another that spanned four feet across.

Linda Hill and her three young daughters entered the first contest with just eight participants. The next year, Hill became the chair of the contest and continued in that role until her girls were grown. Now, the parade committee oversees about 100 entries.

Over the years, the bonnet-wearing contestants have included dogs, cats, rabbits, llamas, cows and parrots.

“And I think we’ve even had a goat but I won’t swear to it,” Osborne said.

Over the years, Osborne said, she has seen the Easter festivities evolve. The event has nearly doubled in size but one thing remains the same.

“It just has a sweet, hometown feeling,” Osborne said.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

Easter bonnet contest sign up:

Where: First Street and Avenue A

When: 10 a.m. Saturday with judging starting immediately after the parade.

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