By Bruce Boyer
How do you inspire patriotism in young children? Legendary pre-school teacher Mary Mullinax had the right idea. As a pre-school teacher at Main Street United Methodist Church, she knew that children learned best by doing. Her vision was for children to experience patriotism first-hand by dressing up in red, white and blue, and to celebrate our nation’s birthday by marching in a holiday parade. Because her pre-school children were considered too young to walk in Kernersville’s 4th of July parade she created one of her own. Kernersville children age 6 and younger have enjoyed their own parade every year since its founding in 1983. This year’s event will be Saturday, June 30, in the town hall courtyard. Registration and activities start at 9:30 AM and the parade starts at 10 AM.
Over the years, a variety of activities have been added to the parade. A bounce house will be set up by the Kernersville Family YMCA. A free craft project will be provided by Avary Ann and Ainsley Herman, the “kidpreneuers” who started the KidsCreate craft projects that support various local charities. Kernersville Little Theater will provide theater props for parents to take memorable photos of their children. Robert Langefeld, a balloon artist and magician, will make balloon animals and perform a few magic tricks for the children. Children can create their own chalk art drawings on the walkways near town hall. In anticipation of the new Kernersville Public Library children’s programs, children’s librarian Stefanie Kellum will read children’s stories in their tent area.
The 4th of July Queen will be crowned by the Rotary Club of Kernersville and will lead the march around the spider-like walkways of the town hall courtyard. The Queen is a local high school student who will also lead the town’s 4th of July parade a few days later. Patriotic music will fill the air and the walkways will be lined with small American flags. Children ride tricycles and wagons or are pushed by their parents in strollers, while others gleefully walk hand-in-hand with the 4th of July Queen. It is a great photo opportunity. Many parents get into the act, too, dressing in patriotic hats and red, white and blue attire.
Thanks to the benevolence of Barbara Bull, H & R Block, the first 100 children will receive a commemorative Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade t-shirt. Each child also will receive a small American flag to wave as they march around the courtyard. The flags are compliments of a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Whit’s Frozen Custard will provide each youngster with a serving of ice cream.
The ceremonies will include a Kernersville police officer leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Lindsey Steele will sing the national anthem. It is all part of inspiring young children so that they will be “proud to be an American.”
The event has a rich history. This is the 35th consecutive year it will be held the Saturday before July 4. In 2017, a permanent marker was dedicated in honor of Mary Mullinax, event founder, who passed away earlier that year. The marker is located near the flagpoles in front of town hall. Mary coordinated the event for the first 13 years, before the Kiwanis Club assumed leadership starting in 1996 and named the event in honor of her. Mary Mullinax continued to be the storyteller each year until her passing. The event fits the Kiwanis Club well as its mission is, “Young Children – Priority One.”
The Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade fulfills the dream of inspiring patriotism in young children. When Mary Mullinax first started the event she said, “I want to do this patriotic thing because I am patriotic. I always tell the children when you are patriotic it means you love your country and you want everyone to know it. I think it is important to teach children about patriotism because it is important to reach them at a young age.”
The Miss Mary’s Children’s Parade will be held rain or shine on Saturday, June 30. In the event of inclement weather, it will be held at the Senior Center, in the basement level of the Kernersville library. It is scheduled to be held in the town hall courtyard, with parking available at either the town hall or library parking lots. Registration begins at 9:30 AM with the parade commencing at 10 AM. Activities will continue until 11:30 AM. Thanks to event sponsors H&R Block, Novant Health Forsyth Pediatrics and the Kiwanis Club, there is no cost to participate.
For more information about the parade contact Tina Schofield (firstname.lastname@example.org), Bruce Boyer (email@example.com), or any member of the Kiwanis Club of Kernersville.