The annual Fourth of July VillageFest bike parade in Prairie Village took about five minutes to complete Saturday.
It took much longer to prepare for.
Just ask all the parents who began dropping off bikes, trikes, scooters and small wagons about 10 a.m. near the city offices at 7700 Mission Road.
As the 11:15 a.m. parade start time grew close, moms and dads focused on their duties as pit crew team members, hustling to outfit the rigs in tricolor crepe paper, tinsel garland, spangled bows and cardboard stars, all under the supervision of their children.
Two candidates for best of show were Benjamin Bickford, 2, and June Winzenried, 15 months.
Benjamin reclined in his wagon, shielded from the sun by two fabric canopies.
An Uncle Sam hat had been mounted on the front while a sign affixed to the wagon’s rear wished those eating Benjamin’s dust a “Happy 4th of July.” Various red, white and blue accents completed the effect, which attracted admiring parents just before starting time.
How long did this take?
“Six days,” joked Austin Bickford, Benjamin’s dad.
“Forty-five minutes,” said Carey Bickford, Benjamin’s mom. “The accoutrements came from Michael’s and the dollar store. I say, ‘Go big or go home.’”
The Bickfords said they wanted to be full participants in the annual VillageFest celebration, now in its 19th year. One of many festivals celebrating Independence Day across the Kansas City area, it attracted thousands to the Prairie Village municipal campus.
“Life is all about having fun, and VillageFest is a great way of bringing the community together,” Carey Bickford said.
At 11:15 a.m. she and many other parents joined their children in following Prairie Village police and staff members on a short route south on Mission Road before turning back into the municipal park.
Close behind the Bickfords came June Winzenried.
Her wagon had been outfitted port and starboard with pink pinwheels and sported the day’s best vanity plate, featuring her name spelled out in sparkled letters, set in a field of pink and white checkerboard.
Her outfit, meanwhile, featured a red polka-dotted skirt and tricolor blouse bows, courtesy of a grandmother in Alabama.
“I have great memories from the Fourth of July as a kid and I want June to have them too,” said Hillary Winzenried, June’s mom. “The parade gives her a foundation for great memories.”
Many of the parade’s children wore blue-and-white bike helmets distributed free Saturday by the Headstrong for Jake Foundation, the area nonprofit operated in memory of Jake Clough, a Fairway teenager who survived a brain injury suffered in a 2005 bicycle accident but died weeks later from something unrelated.
“The bike helmet absolutely saved Jake’s life,” said Joan “Otis” Clough, Jake’s mother.
A line of parents and children seeking helmets remained steady through the morning as Johnson County Med-Act and University of Kansas Hospital volunteers made sure the helmets fit correctly.
A few children participated in a bicycle rodeo operated by Prairie Village police, with officers ensuring that younger riders knew their bike basics.
Kids also lined up to climb rock walls, pet animals (including a kangaroo, a llama and goats), have their faces painted or frolic in artificial snow.
At the Frozen in the Village attraction, children posed for pictures with Elsa, a character from the “Frozen” film, then played in fake snow made from a nontoxic powder.
“We mixed this for three hours last night and came in again this morning to finish up,” said Cindy Clark, VillageFest chairwoman.
Nearby, Mayor Laura Wassmer waited her turn to pose with Elsa amid that unusual July snow.
“In Prairie Village, we can do anything,” she said.