It's almost time to circle up the wagons and hit the trail along the harbor for the 6th annual AJ's Kid's Wagon Parade on Sept. 28.
The wagon parade, an annual tradition at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar, gives families the opportunity to stroll along the harbor and show off their one-of-a-kind decorated wagons.
"We don't discourage parents to help their kids," said Tracy McCraw, AJ's director of marketing. As a matter of fact, just the opposite is true.
"The whole idea behind this is to do something as an activity, spend some time with your child, design a wagon, come up with an idea or theme."
Katie and Eric Thrasher and their 5-year-old daughter Kallie already have a wagon in the works.
"We've got a good theme going for this year," said Katie, who wasn't giving away any secrets.
The Thrashers love and participate in the wagon parade every year.
"For us it incorporates both fun and family," she said.
A couple of years ago, Kallie won the "Judges Choice" award with her Pink Marlin.
The wagon parade is for youth, ages 12 and younger.
This year the parade is adding a new group or organization division.
This is the perfect opportunity for a class, Scout group or club to take on a project, McCraw said.
Youth can design and build a wagon with a nautical theme, then enter that design into the division. A group can be anywhere from six to 22 kids.
Winners of this division will receive a trophy, free buffet lunch at AJ's, along with passes for a dolphin cruise aboard the Seaquest.
Families and individual are still encouraged to enter their wagons.
"The kids love participating in the wagon parade," said Angela Hayles of her two children. "I love seeing Maddox and Kaylynn work together to come up with fun themes for their wagon. One year they were decked out in full camo and so was their wagon. They looked like little "Swamp People."
Hayles also likes the idea that the parade has been moved prior to the Seafood Festival and rodeo, which is hosted by AJís throughout the month of October.
"It is a great kickoff to get the kids excited about the month ahead."
Wagons will be judged at 1 p.m. and every participant will receive a prize. Awards will be given for "Best Theme," "Most Creative," "WOW," and "Best of Show."
"I love seeing all the great ideas," McCraw said. In years past, he has seen wagons turned seaplane, while others have fashioned their wagon too look like the S.S. Minnow from Gilliganís Island.
"No matter what your wagon looks like whether it's the best wagon or just kind of put together Ö the cool thing is when they get in that parade they forget about it Ö they're just glad to have people screaming and clapping for them," McCraw said. "They are just happy to be in that wagon and waving and being in a parade."
The parade will roll from AJ's along the harbor through HarborWalk Village.
"Everybody loves to be in a parade and everybody loves to watch a parade," McCraw said.