It was a cold day Saturday in the hotbed for therapeutic mineral water in Hot Springs, a popular place to visit for Sanders County residents and folk from afar.
On an afternoon when the temperature was a frigid 7 degrees Fahrenheit, the cold snap did not phaze the participants and spectators gathered on Main Street for the annual Chinese New Year Parade. This time it was the Year of the Boar.
Those arriving to take in what is always a colorful and creative parade would not have known that the event was about to unfold at 4 p.m. It seemed just about everyone who was to take part in the parade was inside the spacious Hot Springs Senior Citizens Center on the north side of Main — preparing their costumes in the warmth of the center.
When it came time to get in line for the procession, people of all ages and dressed to the hilt came filing out of the building — in front of which the parade was to begin.
Linny Gibson, owner and operator of Camas Organic Market in downtown Hot Springs, was the Chinese New Year Parade organizer. Jason Moore, with Montana Co-op and Kids Co-op, helped with publicity of the event.
Both were in costume. Linny was inside the large purple boar figure while Jason was “The Rooster.”
The celebration began back in 2009, according to Linny, with the Year of the Horse. Since there, animals were added to the mix, such as a huge rooster, dragon, dog, boar and ever-popular “monkey kazoo band.”
“We add a different animal every year,” Linny said.
The band members, backed by a bevy of drummers (on drums, garbage containers and what-not) and wearing pig snouts and ears, were in tune every step of the parade. It proceeded from the senior center west for two blocks and back to the home base.
Costumes included the returning 30-foot-long dragon, a purpleoosa (Tara Burrows as a purple horse), 10-foot-tall genie (Becky Luther), and the big hands guy (Robert Dobrovolny).
The parade was attended by a couple of residents of Sandpoint, Idaho, including Kim Cash, who carried a quite colorful, exotic, two-level umbrella. “You people (of Hot Springs) as so welcoming,” she said.
After the parade, participants and spectators gathered inside the senior center for a potluck meal.
“It was a great year,” Linny told those attending the after-parade meal, and jested about the outside chill. “We did it no matter what!”
Next year: It’s the Year of the Rat. If you want to participate, let your creative juices begin to flow and think of a unique costume. It’s the neighborly thing to do in Hot Springs.