Dressed to the nines in red, white, and blue, Darien's young rolled through the streets of downtown Sunday morning as participants in the YWCA Darien/Norwalk's sixth annual Push-n-Pull Parade.
The roadway was inundated with patriotic apparel and decorations as children and parents piloted bikes, scooters, pull-carts, and strollers along the parade route.
The color guard led the way, accompanied by a fife and drum corps. Directly behind them, First Selectman Dave Campbell and YWCA Executive Director Nancy Coughlin carried the YWCA banner.
Uncle Sam was also near the front, along with several local and state officials. Fire trucks and the Darien Sport Shop's Smart Car brought up the rear.
Despite the heat, Coughlin estimated some 3,000 people joined the march, which snaked through Brookside Road, the Post Road, and West Avenue. She attributed the event's popularity to its simplicity.
"We make sure it's all about the kids. It's great to get all these kids outside, and they love having the streets all to themselves," Coughlin said.
Coughlin and fellow organizer Carol Huffert began pressing for the event years ago, inspired by push-n-pull parades they had encountered outside of Darien.
With former First Selectman Evonne Klein's approval, then-YWCA Executive Director Rita Shaughnessy helped organize the inaugural Darien version in 2005.
Since then, "the Parade has become a beloved town tradition," Coughlin said. Darien is the only town that hosts a push'n'pull styled parade in the area.
Marchers in this year's event gathered at the Goodwives Shopping Center parking lot, where Mary Ann Hall's Music for Children kept them entertained until the procession began.
Most arrived at Tilley Pond Park, the parade's endpoint, half an hour later, finding shade and refreshments there.
The Good Humor truck; Pizza, Pasta & Brew; and Robeks Fruit Smoothies and Healthy Eats were also stationed at the park. Other stands sold cold drinks and ice cream.
Even pet dogs had a chance to rehydrate at Pawprint Market's water stations.
"I really liked riding in the parade and seeing the soldiers," said a young Mckenzie Nolan, while waiting in line at one of the stands with her parents.
Many assembled around the main tent, where the energy of Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band was infectious despite the heat and humidity.
Coughlin said feedback from the town had been quite positive. In some instances, "families that had recently moved here said, 'After we came to the Push-n-Pull Parade, we knew we made the right move,'" she said.
"This is our first time here and it's a great way to celebrate the 4th of July with the kids," said Matt Snow, echoing those sentiments.
Participation was free, but donations of $10 were encouraged. Money raised from the parade helps fund several YWCA programs, including New Directions, Better Beginnings, and Parent Awareness.