REED CITY — Little feet and big smiles took over the streets of Reed City on Wednesday as local students participated in the Mecosta-Osceola Great Start Collaborative Children’s Parade.

The parade has been taking place once a year for close to 20 years.

More than 600 preschool through second-grade students from G.T. Norman Elementary and NEMCSA Head Start Preschools, the Great Start Readiness Program, Kiddies Klubhouse, Reed City Community Preschool and more all took part in the march to create one of the largest Reed City children’s parades.

“It’s a great way to raise awareness about the importance of  children’s early years,” said LouAnn Gregory, Great Start Collaborative coordinator. “Awareness is more than just school and teachers, it’s also parents. Parents are the first and most important teachers because they are teaching their children life skills.”

Children waved and smiled at family and friends while they marched down the street. Students wore hats, brignt colors, pinwheels and signs all in support of Month of the Young Child.

During April, the Eastwood Early Childhood Center worked with local schools, daycare and agencies to promote awareness of the needs and rights of young children.

“The parade is something fun and unique for the kids to do,” Gregory said. “People cheer them on from the sidewalks and the kids really enjoy it.”

Parents and staff also joined in the parade to show their support for the children.

“My kids wanted to go to have fun,” said Loretta Hays, mother of a preschooler and a kindergarten student. “By bringing awareness to young children, it lets them know that we care for them and are here if they need help.”