Everyone loves a parade, especially the children of the Fort McPherson Child, Youth and Schools Services school programs.

On April 28, children and parents took part in the annual Month of the Military Child Children's Parade on Fort McPherson, a tradition dating back to the mid 1970s.

The theme of this year's parade was "Discover Science," said Barbara Howard, Child Development Center director.

The theme was chosen by parents at the monthly parent advisory committee meeting, she added. To show off the theme, children wore different costumes based on their grade level.

Students in preschool 1 were rainforest creatures, preschool 2 students were scientists, and preschool 3 students were dinosaurs.

Pre-toddlers wore weather costumes, toddlers 1 were sea creatures, toddlers 2 were birds, and pre-kindergarten students were planets.

All costumes, with the exception of the dinosaurs, lab coats wore by preschool 2 students, and the preschool 1 students' bird hats were built by students, Howard said, adding a personal touch and involvement in the parade.

It also provided learning opportunities with classroom teachers working to incorporate the science theme into their lesson plans.

For example, Howard said the preschool children made their own miniature rain forest and had a guest from the Lawrence Joel Army Health Clinic present a demo about germs.

Children got to put a special lotion on their hands and stick them under a purple light, thereby allowing them to see the germs on their hands, Howard explained.

"It's something they never did. It was good to get them involved in science," she said. Howard was also glad for the involvement of many others that helped support the parade, including the Army Ground Forces band, the Fort McPherson fire and police departments, and the parents and volunteers who helped make the parade possible.

"They (the children) really like it - the music, the marching, the dress up - and they enjoy the attention," Howard said.

Jane Barnard, CYSS coordinator, said parents also enjoy the parade.

"It's time away from work, a time children and parents can be together having fun," she said.

Other adults also seemed to enjoy the chance to get out of the office and line the parade route to wave to the children and provide support.

"The kids just like having the people wave at them," said Marilyn Johnson, CDC program assistant. "The parade involves more than children." Still, the focus was definitely on the children, Howard said, creating a fitting finale to the Month of the Military Child.