By Julie Fiedler, Fort Riley Public AffairsApril 26, 2013
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Despite overcast skies and chilly temperatures, spirits were sunny and warm during the Month of the Military Child Parade on April 16 on Main Post.
While waiting at the starting point, Child, Youth and School Services staff led children in song and jumping jacks to keep warm on the blustery Kansas morning.
With a distant drum beat, the parade got underway as the children, led by the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard and the 1st Infantry Division Band, chattered and laughed along the quarter-mile route from Artillery Parade Field to Cavalry Parade Field.
"Even with this yucky weather, I think it went wonderfully," said Carole Hoffman, CYSS administrator.
About 300 children from four child development centers, including Whitside CDC, 1st Division CDC, Warren Road CDC and Forsyth CDC, participated in the event -- something that makes the parade such a special event, Hoffman said.
"We get to bring all of our CDC children -- preschoolers -- together. Because we are so large, we don't get to do that very often, so it's pretty cool that we get to bring them all together," she said.
Despite the winter-like weather, parents and community members gathered along the route to watch, wave and take photographs.
"I loved seeing some people on the parade route, so the kids got to wave at some people," Hoffman said.
Several Soldiers also took breaks from their duty day to accompany their children in the parade.
"I don't normally see him during the day, so it's good to spend some time with him during the day," said Staff Sgt. Edwin Escobar, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, about his 3-year-old son, Eydan.
In addition to recognizing the sacrifices military children make, Escobar said he thinks it's important to show children they are important to the Soldiers and Family members as well.
"I think it's important (to recognize) the sacrifices that they also go through -- through separation and stuff like that," Escobar said. "Just a month all about them, to (show them) they're important in our lives as well."
At the end of the route, children had the opportunity to take photos with Riley Bear and Scarlet, who rode along in the parade, waving to the children from the back of a pickup truck.
Before boarding buses back to their CDCs, the children sang "Mr. Sun."
Although Mr. Sun did not shine down on them during the parade, the children had a good time, Hoffman said.