My Memories of the Annie Malone Parade

20, June 2013
high school marching bandVashon High School Marching Band performing at the Annie Malone Parade, ca. 1980. Photo courtesy of Tamaki Harvey Stratman.

The annual Annie Malone Parade, often remembered as the May Day Parade, is an event that I looked forward to every year as a little girl. When I went to the parade each May, I knew that summer was near.

My two favorite things about the parade were eating the delicious cherry and strawberry sno-cones and watching members of the marching band dance down the street as they played their instruments. As the cheerleaders would throw their batons high in the air, I would be looking up and to see if the girls were able to catch them. It was all a part of the excitement of the day.

When I was about eight years old, I went to the parade with my Aunt Curlean, her friend, and her friend’s kids. I remember that year especially well because my mother had planned my outfit at least three weeks before the big day. This outfit had my mother’s style written all over it. It was so important for my mother to color coordinate my clothes. She would say, “My baby is going to the parade with my sister, so she has to look cute.” Oh the pressure for an eight year old!

girls enjoying sno-cones at parade Tamaki Stratman (left) and friends enjoying sno-cones at the parade, ca. 1980. Photo courtesy of Tamaki Harvey Stratman.

Sure, I looked cute, but what this girl needed was to eat! Standing on the sidewalk while the bands went by, I told my aunt that I was hungry. She had no idea about my finicky eating habits. She told me she would get me a hotdog and a soda, which I said would be fine. When she came back, oh my goodness, the hotdog was covered in relish and mustard. How could I tell her that I did not like any condiments on my hotdog? Instead, I thanked her.

Aunt Curlean and her friends continued to enjoy the parade. Even I was dancing on the sidewalk, mimicking the moves of the marching band. All the time, I still had a hardly eaten hotdog in my hand. My aunt looked at me and asked, “Are you going to eat your hotdog?”

“Yes, Aunt Curlean,” I replied. “I am just saving it.”

She looked at me strangely, but we went back to enjoying the parade. I noticed quite a few people around us and thought to myself that if I threw it away she would never know. I spotted a trashcan nearby. I looked around to see if anyone was looking and nonchalantly threw the hotdog in the trash.

After the parade ended and we were walking back to the car, my aunt inquired, “What did you do with that hotdog?” I told her that I ate it. My face clearly betrayed the fact that I did not eat it.

My aunt said, “You didn’t eat it—you threw the hotdog in the trashcan.”

“How did you know I threw it in the trashcan?” I asked. I was busted!

She replied, “I thought you said you ate it. I am going to tell your mother.” I will never tell a lie again, I thought to myself.

The hotdog incident is one of my most vivid memories of the Annie Malone Parade. This year’s parade, held on May 19, marked the 125th anniversary of the St. Louis Colored Orphan’s Home, which is now the Annie Malone Home. I have not been back to the parade in many years. But recalling these memories reminds me that I need to go next year and make new memories with my husband.

—Tamaki A. Harvey Stratman, Museum Services Coordinator