One of the highlights of the annual Colony Days Parade is seeing just what the gang at Escuela Del Rio comes up with for a float. They have never disappointed, winning sweepstakes honors year after year as staff and clients work for months getting the float ready for Atascadero’s annual parade.
As a newspaper editor, I always looked forward to “easy” news weeks — you know, when news just drops in your lap and you don’t have to do any real work to get it. As the Escuela Del Rio float rolled by, I usually said to myself, “There’s next Wednesday’s front page picture.”
Escuela Del Rio was formed in Atascadero in the 1970s to help adults with developmental disabilities.
Not only do the students work on the floats with school staffers, but they also participate in being a part of the float as it moves down the parade route, with fellow classmates underneath pushing it along.
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This year’s float depicted music-playing devices down through the ages, ranging from the Edison phonograph to 45 rpm records to the boom box and finally the iPod. The float was a perfect fit for this year’s Colony Days Parade theme, “Back to the Future.”
Debbie Argano, executive director of Escuela Del Rio, said the students and staff enjoy working on each year’s float. The four staffers in charge of this year’s entry were Jim Kelleher, Elisa Oregon, Cheryl Post and Jeane Rinehart.
For a few years, Escuela Del Rio was challenged for the top award by Don and Linda Messer on behalf of Linda’s business, Atascadero School of Gymnastics. Many of you will remember their large pirate ship or larger-than-life airplane float making its way up El Camino Real.
My wife, Eileen, was the Colony Days chairwoman for several years and headed up the parade committee for almost 10 years. She could always count on either Escuela Del Rio or Atascadero School of Gymnastics to generate crowd-pleasing entries. She was never disappointed.
But I was disappointed the school float didn’t make the front page of the local newspaper.
Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Colony Days Parade. The week of Colony Day activities will include the return of the marble statue to the Sunken Gardens, the dedication of the park bandstand and the opening of the new library.
Now is the time to start planning on that special entry for your business, service club or yourself. I’ve already nailed down my four youngest grandchildren to ride in my entry in October 2013.