Saturday morning, as 17th Ave. East of McKinley began to fill up with floats and other parade entries, families made their way to the parade route on the South side of Vets Park. They were there for the first ever Party in the Park Wet-Dry parade. The route was divided in two at the railroad tracks just west of the lake, with dry spectators lining up to the East, and wet spectators to the West.
Members of the Great Bend Kiwanis Club, co-sponsors of the parade, distributed squirt sticks to spectators, who began practicing right away, dipping their sticks into cattle tanks filled with water, aiming, and letting loose with long streams of water at one another. Before long, many children, and adults too, were soaked.
But the real soaking was yet to come. Soon, the parade began. All parade entries slowly made their way past the dry spectators, but as they neared the tracks, the few entries that wished to remain dry veered to the north into the parking area there.
The remainder, including two large cement mixers and a fire truck, continued on, and as spectators volleyed with streams of water, they let loose with streams of water rushing down cement shoots, flooding bystanders who whooped it up, reveling in the coolness. The fire truck, bringing up the rear, showered the crowd with its hose, to everyone’s delight.
Stephanie Moon, Great Bend, came with the children she babysits. She said she had never been to anything like the parade before. They had a great time, she said, and would definitely come again.
Mike Byer, Florence, Colo., is the brother of Barton County Appraiser Barbara Esfeld. She was visiting Byer when they attended a wet-dry parade there, he said, and it inspired her to bring the idea back to Great Bend. He was impressed with the turnout for Great Bend’s first year event.
“The children’s laughter is worth every soaking drop,” he said. “A water fight is always fun, but when it involves a whole town, it’s fabulous.”