KEARNEY — Extraordinary times call for extraordinary creativity — and an extraordinary parade.
“A backwards parade is a traditional parade that has been flipped,” said Jennifer Beck, director of community engagement for the Kearney Area Children’s Museum. “Instead of the characters and the parade going down the street, the parade will be lined up on the sidewalk. Families will enjoy the parade from their cars.”
The characters will line up on the sidewalk from the intersection of 56th Street and Fourth Avenue and stretch to the museum at 5827 Fourth Ave.
“Families can turn onto Fourth Avenue from 56th Street and drive slowly down the street and enjoy honking and waving at their favorite characters that they see lining Fourth Avenue,” Beck said. “We’ll also have characters and things lined up through our parking lot. And then they can exit out our parking lot and head north toward 60th.”
The Backwards Parade will feature individuals from the Kearney area as well as representatives from various arts organizations 10-11 a.m. Saturday. There is no charge to participate in the event presented by Kearney Area Children’s Museum.
Beck requests that everyone abide by all traffic laws, refrain from stopping and stay in their vehicles at all times.
“The Lincoln and Omaha children’s museums have done this before and they shared the idea with us,” she said. “We decided to jump on board and spread some cheer in our community by doing this. The community has been very responsive.”
The event conforms to social distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been very well received within the community because we are making sure that we are maintaining social distancing while still providing families with a unique experience,” Beck said. “It will help people get out of their house and have a fun morning.”
The event is designed for an audience of all ages.
In a press release, Traci Winscot, executive director for the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, stressed the value of an event like the Backwards Parade.
“We felt like the community needed a fun, family-friendly event during this unpredictable time so we have rounded up some awesome volunteers and friends to help spread some cheer,” she said. “Characters will be safe distances apart from one another on the sidewalk to follow CDC and TRPHD social distancing directives.”
Another aspect of the event involves a game of “I Spy.” The museum’s Facebook page contains a printable checklist of characters found in the Backwards Parade. Beck invites families to look for a bearcat, a princess and perhaps even a dinosaur along the parade route. She also encourages families to decorate their cars and make signs they can hold in the windows as they drive by.
Unlike a traditional parade, Beck said the Backwards Parade will not feature marching bands and she expects none of the participants will be throwing candy. Some of the groups represented at the parade include Crane River Theater, Kearney Community Theatre, Girl Scouts, fire and police departments and NPPD.
“We won’t be passing anything out or throwing anything at the cars because we want to do our best to maintain social distancing and keep things healthy,” Beck added.