Magical Maple Leaf Parade

The Maple Leaf Parade, hosted annually in Carthage, Missouri, celebrated its 52nd year today. Known as the area’s largest parade, the 2018 theme was “Magical”.

What began in 1966 as a marching band competition has developed into a festival, named for the trees in the area that begin colorful transformations in the fall. The parade begins in Carthage’s historical square and ends at the old junior high school.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Highlights from the Parade

Here are highlights, captured in photos:

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

The Carthage Police Color Guard leads off the parade at 9:00 am, on the west side of the square. That handsome police sergeant in the back is my son.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

The first band today, among many, was the Marching Tigers from Carthage. As one who marched with the band in Maple Leaf as a high school student, I enjoy these on the move performances. Speaking from experience, I know about the hours and hours that the students put in before parade season starts.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Grandson Oliver gives me a smile as his football team sails by. He’s at the top of the float. After the float rolled by, I saw Oliver drop back into his seat on the far side, out of view. This sweet kid knew where I would be standing in the crowd and popped up just so I could take a photo.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

This adorable dog wears his hat and rides in this car, every year. He is a crowd favorite. I’ll miss his presence some day!

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Grandson Dayan marched with the Carl Junction Bulldogs all through junior and senior high school. I recognized the band’s big sound before they even came into view. Partly out of habit, and partly so that I could send Dayan a video, I recorded their amazing performance. Listen to the Marching Bulldogs.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

The long string of Volkswagen Beetles generated excitement! I’ve not seen this car group represented in the parade before.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

The Star Wars group shows up every year, however, much to the delight of fans. With a large cast of costumed characters and the Star Wars theme music playing, this group draws cheers.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

And toward the end of the parade was the rest of my family members who participated…daughter-in-law Megan and grandkids Joey and Aubrey. They helped out with Megan’s work float, and had a fun time handing out candy.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

Carthage Courthouse

And the horses signaled the end of the parade. A total of 170 floats, bands and groups participated. The day was cool but with ample sunshine, making it perfect parade weather.

The old Carthage Courthouse, in the center of the square, presided over it all. This gorgeous building was built in 1894-1895. The Richardsonian Romanesque structure, designed by architect Max A. Orlopp Jr., was constructed with local Carthage marble and has medieval castle features that include turrets, towers, and arches. It is the second most photographed building in Missouri and remains in use by Jasper County officials.

I love the picturesque building. I turned to looked up at it several times and snap photos. Fifty two times the Maple Leaf Parade has circled the courthouse. What an amazing celebration of creativity and music. I hope that old building stands for many more years to come, as a silent witness to future parades.

Magical Maple Leaf Parade

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