"It's the event of the week," said Cecelia Howell, whose own family plans would cause her to miss the Hickory Hill Easter Parade.
And it was a milestone year for the tromp around one city block behind Norris Elementary School. It was the 37th year, said one organizer. No, it was the thirty-somethingth year, said another.
Roy Newsome said think again. Newsome said he has lived in the neighborhood for 45 years, and "Y'all was doing it when I came here."
Sara Newton has walked generations of neighbors' children through the parade. She said it started as a family event and just kept growing. "I had five children and you had to give them something to do," she said.
And "something to do" on Saturday was traipsing down the middle of the street carrying a parade banner, or riding in a dune buggy, or a golf cart, or pulling a little red wagon, or sitting in regal splendor atop a bale of hay being pulled behind a tractor, glaring into the afternoon sun and looking forward to the picnic that had been spread back beneath the shade tree.
"Something to do" was sitting in a stroller.
About 30 people paraded and picnicked Saturday. The numbers have been higher before. The parade once drew a hundred or more.
"I have put more tiaras on little girls than you can think about," said Billie Thomas, who wore a wide-brimmed hat instead of a tiara or Easter bonnet.
Jaye and Debbie Jones were on hand with daughter Lindsey, who rode the royal hay wagon. Twin daughters Anna and Ashley, 21 months, relaxed in a stroller. Grandpa Butch Jones doted on them. That's a grandpa's job.
Jaye said the community parade has been bigger in the past. He hopes folks come together "to pick it back up and see if we can get a good turnout."
Dawn Swan has put a tiara on a daughter in her time, and has watched her daughter grow to college age. "It used to be like hundreds of kids," she said.
"Well, maybe it can get back to that," said daughter Sara.
The parade has a community's name, but the community has no boundaries, Dawn said.
Organizers and participants gathered and walked, donned princess and bunny costumes, reminisced, shared food and memories and looked forward to bigger parades. But there was nothing lacking or incomplete about a 3 p.m. parade crammed into one of the busiest weekends of the year. Somewhere between the Easter egg hunt and the prom, neighbors gathered and talked and acted like neighbors. They shared credit, the way neighbors do.
If another year finds me behind Norris school, I hope another flock of youngsters ride on hay bales and red wagons. I hope another picnic smells just as good. I hope another parade committee looks forward to future parades.
But Saturday's smaller crowd had something that will enrich whatever tradition develops or endures. Folks brought an appreciation of neighbors and of the moment, the assurance that moments are important.
Cecelia Howell was right. It was the event of the week.
I hope you, the reader, enjoyed sharing our visit with folks who appreciate an important truth.
Timeless traditions are made of bits of time.