Thousands of people will descend on the Florissant area during the first weekend of May for the annual Valley of Flowers Festival.
This year's theme is "Valley of Flowers Mothers Love...," and mom Marquita Parker has been chosen as the parade marshal after her 10-year-old daughter, Mera, a student at Atonement Lutheran School, won the festival's essay contest.
"I hope my mom gets picked to be parade marshal because she is an example of how a mother's love has gone further than her own kid and has positively impacted many kids in the community," Mera said in her essay.
Vicky Egan, a member of the festival's board of directors, said that they picked this year's theme because the parade is actually on Mother's Day. Aside from the festival's theme (which is different every year), the only major change to the event is the organization of the parade.
According to Egan, more than 125 units (including floats, the Valley of Flowers Queen candidates, antique cars and marching bands) will start from the James J. Eagan Center and head west on Parker Road toward New Florissant Road.
The second group, which includes walking units for the District 9 Girl Scouts and Rhythmettes, will start at Parker and New Florissant. From there, the parade participants will head south to rue St. François.
The third group, consisting of dancers and gymnasts, will start at the City of Florissant Government Building parking lot. The parade route will continue west on rue St. François, then south on St. Ferdinand Street and finally west on Washington Street.
Instead of having staggered starting times, the three groups will all start at 1:45 p.m. on May 8, and all end at the Knights of Columbus grounds on Washington Street, where the parade winners and Valley of Flowers Queen will be announced.
If you're planning on watching the parade, be sure to claim a spot early, as advised by the festival's board of directors member Mary Gettemeier.
"There are already chairs lined up at 7 (a.m.)," Gettemeier said, referring to the crowds at previous festivals.
Aside from the parade and crowning, one of the highlights of this year's festival is a "Family Knight" on May 5, 4:30-8:30 p.m. on the Knights of Columbus grounds, where everything (food, rides, games) is $1.
Other events include a dog show on May 7; the Cinco de Mayo Village, May 6-7; a craft fair, May 6-7; high school baseball games, May 5-7; and a car show on May 7.
More information can be found on the Valley of Flowers website, or by calling 314-837-0033.