Life’s a beach: Baby parade showcases new generation of Lititz Fourth fans

By on July 6, 2016

It looked like moms Marie Cleaves-Rothacker and Krisha Hiller were having just as much fun as their daughters at the annual Fourth of July Baby Parade on Saturday.

Maybe even more.

While their little girls Paloma and Alice seemed oblivious to their magical transformation to the island of Hawaii — surrounded by palm trees, exotic flowers and a grass thatched roof — their mothers were having a blast. Wearing floral sarongs with leis and sandals, Cleaves-Rothacker and Hiller were rockin’ the tropical paradise look. They even led the way doing a little hula dance as the dads pulled their float.

It was all a part of Beach Day at Lititz Springs Park. The park turned into a beachside resort, with a boardwalk, concession stands, beach games, sand, miniature golf, skeeball and fishing. You could almost hear the ocean waves, even though the closest body of water was Lititz Run, which was all ready for the evening’s candle lighting.

There was even a shark sighting, although its teeth seemed pretty harmless.

The Baby Parade also had a beach theme, of course, and the Hawaiian float was on board with the tropical look. The two families took home the top prize for Best Theme. No one else was doing the hula.

The Best Hometown Spirit prize went to Harmony and Melody Lowrey for their Dear Grandma postcard float. The detail was impressive, with an adorable giant postcard that was addressed to Grandma. The wagon float had beach toys, shovels, a sandcastle, Lititz postcards, a picnic basket with Sturgis Pretzels and Wilbur Buds, all with a red, white a blue checkered tablecloth. Melody rode on the float, while Harmony joined up with her sister from time to time.

Lowell Landis was so impressed with the detail on the Lowreys’ float that he awarded it with the Delmar Landis Grand Prize. The prize was named in memory of Landis’s brother, who made it his passion to build larger than life baby parade floats depicting Lititz Springs Park. For five years, the Landis family won the grand prize. After Delmar died, his family established the Delmar Landis Grand Prize in his memory.

“This float may not be the biggest in the Baby Parade, but it’s all about the detail,” said Landis. “My brother would have been impressed.”

There were other impressive floats at the parade, like the three little mermaids on the Most Patriotic Float. The red, white and blue beach guardians were decked out with stars-and-stripes windmill toys and patriotic glitter. Baby Joanna Trostle had a hand-crocheted mermaid tail with white stars on red and blue stripes. Her older cousins Taylor and Madison Work had red, white and blue crocheted tails and lots of Little Mermaid toys around them.

Another winner was Madison Poague, who embraced a “Finding Dory” theme with real sand, a beach umbrella, inflatable beach toys, beach chairs and beach rules, along with Nemo and Dory characters. Madison seemed almost ready to dive right off her beach float, but parents Sarah and Jeremy Poague kept her safely tethered.

This year’s Baby Parade certainly had plenty of “Fun, Fun, Fun” as the Beach Boys showed up with sand sculptures and beach chairs. However, only nine-month-old MJ Rozitski seemed happy on the fun float. His older companions were a bit less pleased with the experience, and one refused to ride along at all.

Two-month-old Isabelle Gallagher seemed to go with the flow on her first Baby Parade float, sporting heart-shaped sunglasses, real sand, a red pail, seashells, and a sky-designed umbrella to keep out the rays. As her bib proudly proclaimed, it was her “1st 4th of July.”

The Baby Parade was sponsored by the Heart of Lancaster and coordinated by the Lititz Woman’s Club. Its history goes back to 1937 when the first Baby Parade was held as part of the Fourth of July celebration. The parade disappeared after 1959, but Lititz Mayor Roy Clair urged its revival just in time for the 1986 Fourth.

This year’s Baby Parade was led by Isaac Afutiti and Cara Piehl, the ring bearer and flower girl for the 75th Queen of the Candles Pageant.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance feature writer. She welcomes reader comments at




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