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Posted: May 15, 2014 Doll and pet parade attracts 'acts, animals and performers'

Article by Chuck Rupnow

Taken from the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

Chris Bartle of Eau Claire was a bit too old and big to be part of the annual Doll & Pet Parade Saturday. His children were thankful.

Kylie Bartle, 10, was dressed as an acrobat, complete with a hula hoop. She laughed when asked if her father had been teaching her how to use it.

"He tried; just a little," Kylie said with a laugh. "It wasn't so good."

Katelyn Bartle, 7, was pulling a "bunny brigade," a wagon load of three cages filled with a total of four rabbits.

"I hate wearing numbers," she said, twisting her entry tag. When asked what she'd rather be doing, she replied: "Watching TV."

The theme for the parade presented by Water Street merchants, was "Come to the Circus".

"We usually have 200 to 300 kids," said Pat Lokken, parade chairwoman, adding that she had about 30 volunteer helpers.

"I have so much good help. It takes a lot of work."

The audience lined several blocks of Water Street on a picture-perfect early afternoon, a stark contrast to last year's wet and cool conditions.

"This is just a great day for kids," Lokken said. "It's always on Mother's Day weekend, so you have the moms and dads and all the junior high bands. It's a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

"This may be the only parade that's just for kids," Lokken added. "Kids can come down, bring a pet or dog, or a wagon or bike and just have a heyday for themselves. There's such great community involvement with such wonderful sponsors and merchants. It's a win-win for everyone."

Larissa McAnarney of Eau Claire brought children, Haven, 6, Finnegan, 3, and Brielle, 14 months, to the event. It was their first time in the parade. They were dressed as a clown, bee and princess, respectively.

"We have been looking forward to this," McAnarney said. "We've been wanting to do it and it finally worked out this year. Haven got the most decked out, finding as much as she could around the house."

When asked her thoughts of the parade, Haven responded: "I like it."

It was the third parade for Erin Johnson of Eau Claire and her children, Caelob, 6, and Clara, 4. Caelob was dressed in a bright red ringmaster outfit while Clara had a leopard costume and was seated in a decorative "circus wagon" made of cardboard and plastic piping.

"We have friends who helped organize it and encouraged us to be part of it, and we have loved it; the kids love it," Johnson said. "We have a blast every year."

"I think it's a great community event and one that is geared to just toward the kids, which I think can become a highlight for them," Johnson said.



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