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Books on parade at Kitsap's Woodlands Elem.

The 23rd annual Woodlands Elementary School Book Float Parade brings out the book worm in everybody. More than 20 classrooms created floats for the 2008 parade. Costumes, signs, balloons and bells filled the school’s gymnasium.   - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
The 23rd annual Woodlands Elementary School Book Float Parade brings out the book worm in everybody. More than 20 classrooms created floats for the 2008 parade. Costumes, signs, balloons and bells filled the school’s gymnasium.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

23rd annual ‘Book Float Parade’ exercises creativity.

Pouring down rain didn’t keep Woodlands Elementary School from celebrating books at the school’s 23rd annual Book Float Parade Thursday morning.

Inside a packed gymnasium, students, parents and school staff looked on as handmade floats honoring literature’s finest traversed the “runway.”

“They come up with some very creative ways to celebrate a book,” Woodlands Elementary Learning Specialist Jeff Sullivan said of the students. “The kids get so excited.”

While kindergarten, first- and second-grade students didn’t participate this year, those in third grade and up didn’t disappoint.

With “My Side of the Mountain,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Pippi Longstocking” and many more floats, more than 20 classrooms paraded through the gym with decorated designs.

“It’s definitely evolved over the years,” said Sullivan, who has worked on the parade every year since 1989. “We’ve added banners over the years.”

The banners, he said, are designed to reward each class for designing their own unique float.

“It used to be more competitive (but) now everyone feels like a winner,” he explained.

Thursday’s banners included “most environmental” and “best tasting.”

Festivities stayed at fever pitch all morning as the school’s jazz bland — the only elementary jazz band in the district — tooted its horn.

“I thought it was fabulous to have the jazz band play,” Sullivan said.

Whether in the parade or on the sideline, the students were all smiles.

“I learned about fairy tales,” second-grade student Tyler Brown said. “Sometimes stories can come to life.”

While Brown didn’t participate, he still has float plans of his own.

“The kind of float I’d want to make is ‘Big Red,’” he said of his favorite book. “I’m a fan of Big Red.”

Librarian Liz Roberts Moodle, who has been with the school since the parade’s inaugural year, finds joy in seeing students excited about books.

“I think it encourages them to read,” she said. “The great thing is kids get to do it all themselves.”

Preparation for the event begins in the classroom, with students brainstorming their book of choice. The class reads the books, talks about themes and begins construction on the float.

“It’s a lot of work,” Roberts Moddle said.

Every year, graduating seniors who attended Woodlands return to the school to talk with the current students. The parade, Roberts Moodle said, always tops the seniors’ list of memories.

“It’s something they always remember,” she said.

The Book Float Parade holds a place in the school’s history as past floats line the library walls. And with 26 years of library work under her belt, Roberts Moddle sees the parade as a unifying event.

“It’s an event that pulls the whole school together,” she said.

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