Students at Leika’s take part in annual Easter paradePublished 3:29pm Friday, March 22, 2013
Anxious parents and grandparents holding camera phones and video recorders in one hand and a wiggly hand of the little brothers and sisters not yet old enough to attend school in the other, lined the halls of Leika’s School Friday morning as they waited to catch a glimpse of their child or grandchild pass by in the annual Easter parade.
The parade is a Leika’s tradition. But the star of the show is not just the sweet, cherub faces that pass by, that light up when they see a family member cheering them on, urging them to stop for a picture, but also the eggs-travagant hats they wear so proudly atop their heads.
“The best part,” said Mary Jane Moore, proud grandmother to Leika’s kindergartener Tristan Smitherman, “is oh my goodness, the hats.”
Moore said her grandson has been talking about his hat — decorated in a farm theme — for weeks.
“Oh yea, he loves it,” she said. “We have a farm, and he put tractors and animals [on his hat].”
While cute and adorable, you can’t help but wonder, where did the idea for Easter-themed hats (or not-so Easter-themed hats) come about.
“One of the kindergarten teachers started it about five years ago,” Leika’s director Mary Drue Wheeler said, noting that the kindergarteners are the ones who get to wear the “anything-themed” paper mache hats made from old editions of The Selma Times-Journal.
“They pick out whether they want snakes on it — one little boy has all kinds of creatures on it, and then another one has a dove and gun shot shells —so it is not exactly you’re traditional Easter egg hats,” Wheeler said. “They make them at school, but the parents bring in whatever [the child] wants on the hats. They supply the eggs and the bows and whatever they want to put on it.”
Due to the rain, the parade was forced to move inside, which brought parents with cameras that much closer to getting the perfect shot of their child as they passed by — wearing their Sunday best.
“We normally go outside and go around the block and then take a picture out in front of the church,” Wheeler said, explaining parades in years past, “but because of the weather we couldn’t do that.”
Following the kindergarteners, the three and four-year-old classes also marched proudly through the parent-filled hallways. Each class had their own theme of Easter hats, but none as wild as the kindergarteners.
“They’re different each year,” Wheeler said of the hats. “The teachers just decide what they’re going to do and they make up their own.”
Wheeler said the hats are something special that both the children and the parents cherish.
“I’ve even heard of some children who have put them up in their rooms and kept them as mementos. It’s one of those things that you feel like it’s something they’re going to remember.” she said. “I just think that especially the kindergartens thoroughly think they are the most wonderful — and their hats, they’re just really proud of them.”
Leika’s preschool is a ministry of Church Street United Methodist Church and while the hats and parade were silly and fun, Wheeler said the focus of Easter is still on Christ, noting that the children’s memory verse for the week is “Rejoice, Jesus is risen.”
And while the parade was held indoors, it was still seen as a success as families filled and lined the halls, and all of the children seemed excited to show off their creations.
“They hadn’t practiced going up the hall,” Wheeler said, but it didn’t seem to matter. “In the beginning, in September, they would cry, but by now they’re kind of use to it. We have a big Thanksgiving program in the sanctuary. That’s when you might find some of them crying, but by now they’re more used to crowds.”
The parade was followed with an indoor Easter egg hunt.
“I think it’s just so good that our community supports the children this way. They really do want to be apart of it all. My main thing is that we are very fortunate to have that many parents that really care,” Wheeler said. “We had grandparents, aunts and everything else. They all came out, even with the weather.”