Certain things will always separate one generation of children from the one before and the one after. For more than six decades, nonetheless, there has been something almost all children share. That is a love for Dr. Seuss books. In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, which coincides with National Read Across America Day, Spring Lake will host its Second Annual Dr. Seuss Parade and Family Fun Day on March 10.
With more than 60 books translated into more than 20 different languages that have sold more than half a billion copies worldwide, Dr. Seuss is not only prolific but downright awe-inspiring. He is known to almost every best-selling list as the No. 1 children’s author of all time. Yet it’s not these statistical trophies that will forever rank him in the hearts and minds of children around the world.
Of course, his use of rhyming lyrics encouraged a more phonetic approach to learning new words, unlike what was seen in traditional primers of the time. But his contribution to literacy is what teachers and parents applaud.
It was Dr. Seuss’ capacity to write and illustrate entertaining characters – the Lorax, the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, to name a few – that allowed children to eagerly engage with the books they were reading. He instilled in them the ability to read better while also encouraging the power of imagination and creativity.
In fact, it was Dr. Seuss who once said, “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
Kristy Martinez Spencer, owner of the Kameo Events and Marketing Services group, said a simple conversation with the former Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey led her to brainstorm the idea for the Dr. Seuss parade. Short of the annual Spring Fling, Spring Lake had no signature event like in surrounding cities.
When her idea finally came to fruition at the inaugural parade last year, the result was shocking. According to Spencer, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people attended the parade.
“It was just a great experience overall,” said Spencer. “People across the entire state of North Carolina came to this parade. It was so overwhelmingly responsive that we’ve outgrown our venue after one year.”
Last year, the venue for the family fun activities was the Spring Lake Parks and Recreation Center. The brand-new outdoor exercise areas at the recreation center made the perfect setting for a kidfriendly event. However, a safety hazard presented itself with the combination of large crowd turnout and vehicle traffic.
As a result, this year the parade takes the same route but finishes off differently. It starts on Poe Street and will continue down Main Street toward Ruth Street before concluding in a block party on North Main Street. This, Spencer said, is safer for the community as the roads will be effectively blocked off.
The parade floats possess Dr. Seuss-inspired themes. Each float will be secretly judged for merits such as creativity, originality and enthusiasm.
Jami McLaughlin, granddaughter of Spring Lake’s first mayor, and her children are just one of many families attending the parade for the second year in a row.
“My children love Dr. Seuss books, so we were very excited that such a fun event was being held in Spring Lake,” said McLaughlin. “We went to the Dinner with Dr. Seuss and the parade last year and my children had fun at both.”
McLaughlin echoed Spencer’s sentiments that Spring Lake has needed something like this event for a long time.
“We used to have great parades down Main Street in Spring Lake, and I remember riding in a classic car with my grandfather, Spring Lake’s first mayor, past the variety store that my grandmother owned,” said McLaughlin. “It was exciting to hear that they were not only bringing a fun Dr. Seuss event to our small town but also recreating the liveliness that we used to have. As Dr. Seuss says, ‘Oh, the places you will go,’ and we are excited to see him in Spring Lake for a second year.”
The Cumberland County Public Library, Fascinate- U Children’s Museum, Alliance Behavioral Health and the Child Advocacy Center are all vendors that will be present during the street party to promote the Read Across America initiative. According to Spencer, free books were even passed out to children who attended last year.
According to local resident Bridey Koch, the Dr. Seuss parade is a perfect way to honor the iconic author.
“All of my children learned to read in part because of Dr. Seuss books,” said Koch. “They grew up on it. So, to have an event like this in this area is a great chance to celebrate that.”
Kameo Events has also partnered with several local groups to bring the fun to this Family Fun Day.
The block party will have a petting zoo that includes goats, sheep, alpacas and pot-bellied pigs. There will also be train rides and nine holes of mini golf as well as bounce houses set up for children to enjoy.
“It’s going to be fun for the kids. It’s designed for them,” said Spencer. “We had a lot of kids out there (last year) going for the books. They dressed up as characters. We’re really looking forward to their participation this year.”
Kids in Sports, a facility at the Market Fair Mall on Skibo Road, will set up activities that encourage children into movement and exercise. Ring Wars Carolina, an independent professional wrestling group based in Hope Mills, will set up to do matches as well.
“It is an opportunity that celebrates literacy and education (with) a family-friendly atmosphere and just a day to have fun,” said Spencer.
The birthday parade is free and open to the public.
The event begins at 11 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m.
In the words of “One Fish, Two Fish,” “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
For more information, contact Kameo Events at 910-797-9568.