This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.
In the middle of a dreary Saturday in Lenoir, a burst of color and sound made its way down Mulberry Street.
A tangle of kids and parents (and aunts and uncles and big brothers and sisters) began the trek from Caldwell Memorial Hospital to the center of downtown, led by Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Steve Stone, at 11 a.m.
They wore tall striped hats, blue wigs and ponytails that pointed straight toward the sky.
It was, perhaps, the best birthday present they could’ve given to the late Theodore Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss was born March 2, 1904. Since his death in 1991, his birthday has been celebrated across the country as Read Across America Day.
Dave and Debbie Debaeremaeker of Lenoir brought Zeke, 3, and Abigail, 10 months, to Saturday’s parade to celebrate Seuss.
“He’s a fantastic writer,” Dave Debaeremaeker said. “And he’s fun, and it gives me an excuse to wear a silly hat downtown.”
Of course, the parade had to take place on Mulberry Street – a road that shares a name with one of Dr. Seuss’s books, “And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street.”
After the parade, everyone gathered at Venti’s Casa downtown for cake, fruit and balloon art. Lots of Seuss-ian characters ran through the room: Thing 1s and 2s, lots of cats in hats, a little Lorax.
Mackenzie Taylor’s niece Peyton, 17 months, was dressed as Cindy Lou Who.
“Her pigtails fell a little with her hat on, though,” Taylor said with a laugh. “She had a good time, though. We had fun.”
The Seuss parade is the brainchild of Venti’s Casa owner Debra Venti and Tracy Casey, who runs the store. Venti is director of merchandising for Lazar Upholstery, but she owns Venti’s Casa and She-Sha’s Gifts & Accessories, too.
“We grew up in a great little town like Lenoir, where everybody knew everybody,” she said. “We wanted to create that for the kids here.”
Dr. Seuss didn’t get a sunny birthday this year.
But in the midst of the cold drizzle that fell on Lenoir Saturday, dozens of kids tripped and traipsed down a road called Mulberry Street. Some rode on their dads’ shoulders. All of them laughed.
One could imagine that’s exactly what he would’ve wanted.