John Stewart and Stephen Colbert may be rolling out the postmodern hype machine with their dueling rallies at the National Mall in Washington, but the scores of kids who will be marching down Main Street in Hamilton Thursday afternoon will be getting their point across with a straight-forward parade.
In step with "Lights on Afterschool" week, the parade will feature kids and adults from a dozen or more programs in the Hamilton and Corvallis areas as well as the Hamilton High School marching band and Jack the Bitterroot Beagle.
As Robin Vineyard of Keystone to Discovery, a Hamilton School District-affiliated afterschool program, was reaching out to different programs, it occurred to her that it wouldn't be easy for a parent to sort through what options were available to students after school.
"It actually took me quite a while to figure who to contact about who is even out there," Vineyard said. "I had to look at a lot of schools' flyers.... It wasn't easy to compile the list so I'm sure for parents it's frustrating."
Besides raising awareness about afterschool programming, Thursday's event will offer families a chance to meet with those who put the programs on, Vineyard said.
Following the parade, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. from the corner of Main and Second streets, Keystone and the MAPS Media Institute will also host a party and open house in the gymnasium at the Westview Center (103 S. Ninth St.).
The open house will last until 8 p.m. and will feature local programs with tables set up to meet with anyone interested in joining.
Among the other groups participating will be: Hamilton Taekwondo, Grace Lutheran Church, River Street Dance Theatre, South Valley Child and Family Center, Youth Rugby, the local Boy Scouts and Cubs Scouts troupes, Kid Country Childcare, Corvallis School District's afterschool program, the Hamilton Players, the Bitterroot Aquatic Center, Bitterroot Buggers fly-tying program, Hamilton's youth basketball program, Ravalli Early Head Start and Liaisons Drop-In Childcare.
MAPS, which turns the afterschool model into a potentially paying media arts gig, is just one of the many paths for kids to take, said Laura Henderson, program director at MAPS.
The impact of those programs, she added, can be measured in the productivity of the students who participate, with many studies correlating robust afterschool programming with a community's drop in both juvenile crime and juvenile crime victims.
"The whole parade thing came up because we wanted to raise awareness of all the afterschool programs that are available in Ravalli County," Henderson said. "What it means to the community is that our kids are safe, that there's a place for them to go."
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or email@example.com.