Cotton Carnival parade to mark Sikeston's sesquicentennial

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SIKESTON, Mo. -- One of these days, Pat Cox would like to sit and watch the parade go by, but it won't be this year.

Cox is again heading up Concordia Lutheran Church's entry into the Oct. 2 Cotton Carnival Parade.

With the parade just weeks away she is busy working out the details to the float.

This year the American Legion has selected the theme "A Salute to the City of Sikeston Sesquicentennial."

Although Cox wouldn't give any details about Concordia's float, she said, "We always try to include the theme of the American Legion coordinating it with theme of the church. You will always see our cross on our float."

Being a part of the parade, which is touted by the American Legion as one of the largest in Missouri, is a good way to get the church's name out to the public, Cox said.

Parade co-chairman Tom Dirnberger agreed. Being a part of the parade can not only be fun, he said, it can also be profitable. Some $3,000 in prize money is being given away to those entering floats this year.

With this being Sikeston's 150th year, he said he hopes even more groups will take part.

"We think groups will have an easier time with this year's theme," Dirnberger said. "With this theme, everyone can get involved."

It is easy to be a part of the parade, Dirnberger said. There is no registration and no entry fees, participants just need to line up along the proper street around 9:15 a.m. Oct. 2; the parade begins at 10.

This year's parade has two divisions for float competitions. The adult division features a grand prize of $1,000, first prize of $600, second prize of $500 and third prize of $400. In the student/Scout division, $250 is awarded for first place, $150, second place and $100, third place.

Dirnberger said sometimes students opt to enter the adult division to compete for the larger prize, although adults are not allowed to enter the student/Scout division.

No matter what division, when each float reaches the judges' reviewing area, it is carefully scored. Judges consider five areas when marking their score sheets: theme, eye appeal and color combination, workmanship, balance of the floats' overall construction and layout, and extra qualities such as animation and humor.

To encourage bands to participate, the American Legion offers $100 in gas money, and this year bands will compete for honors and prize money, too.

Dirnberger said he is expecting a number of the returning high school classes to take part, urging area businesses to include a piece of equipment or a vehicle bearing their names in the parade and asking local organizations to carry a banner and walk the route.

Politicians will be greeting the public this year. Also featured will be the Miss Sikeston and Miss Cotton Carnival contestants.

"The parade is a little bit of everything," Dirnberger said. "And since a lot of people are coming into town that weekend, I think maybe this year's parade will be even bigger."

Dirnberger called the Cotton Carnival parade a part of the community, noting it draws former residents back home and brings visitors from throughout the area to watch.

He said in previous years he has seen people park their vehicles for prime parade watching spots on Friday night and parade watchers perched in their chairs as early as 6:30 a.m. the day of the parade.

"The people I see [at the parade] are all in a great mood. They are very interested in our parade," Dirnberger said. "I think it is a tribute to the town itself that every year so many people turn out."

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