Of the Baker City Herald

HAINES Ever wonder how Smokey the Bear stays cool when the mercury tops 90 degrees and theres no swimming hole in sight?

Well, usually Smokeys Forest Service friends remember to bring the ice-packed vest that cools the space between Smokeys costume and the person inside.

But Stephanie Bachman, making her debut in the hot, furry costume during the Fourth of July parade Wednesday, discovered minutes before the parade started that her fellow employees had left perhaps the most crucial part of Smokeys protective gear behind.

Still, Bachman was a good sport, dutifully donning the Smokey head and marching in front of a Forest Service pumper truck.

I might even be Smokey again during Miners Jubilee, she said, as long as someone remembers to pack the vest.

There werent a whole lot of other glitches Wednesday as 79 entries including horses and decorated bicycles, the sheriffs posse and even Santa Claus participated in the Haines Fourth of July parade.

The Connelly family, holding its annual reunion, created a float pulled by a 1955 McCormack Farmall tractor. Each member wore a uniform of sorts a T-shirt outlining the family tree.

Before the parade started, members related stories about their forebears, helpfully turning their back to a visitor to illustrate which branch they were referring to.

Part of the family, it turns out, included a 70-year-old widow who left Missouri a century ago with her seven sons to settle near Vancouver, Wash.

Another branch wasnt so lucky, buying orchard land sight unseen near Stanfield around 1910 that, sadly, featured in fact no fruit trees whatsoever.

They pretty much all starved, said Don Seymour of Salem.

Down the long line of parade entries, Baker County Sheriff Troy Hale was talking about the new float entitled Kids and Cops. The float reflects an approach that Hale said is important to law enforcement agencies throughout the county: making a childs first contact with a police officer a positive experience.

Once they get to know us, they realize were people too people with a job to do, the sheriff said. The message is, were here to help.

So were several children of area law enforcement officers and dispatchers, who helped build the float, then sprayed their hair blue as they prepared to distribute candy and balloons to the large crowd.

Later, Hale and other sheriffs department employees reprised a practice that proved popular during Hales election campaign last year: they passed out free sno cones to the parched crowd in the park.

Elle Spors float was considerably smaller, but it took almost as much effort to complete. After cutting out a cardboard elephant that fit over her bicycle, Spor, of North Powder, used a couple rolls of duct tape to perfect her pachyderm. The result was first prize in the decorated bicycle division.

Pulling up at the end of the parade just like his colleague at the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade was Santa Claus, although this was not your traditional St. Nicholas.

The Lone Pine Heirs 4-H Club, which draws children from Haines and North Powder, depicted Santa as he might appear this time of year. Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, Santa was allowed to soak his feet in a wading pool. His elves without the late-year pressure of all those toys to make were relaxing nearby with cold drinks.

Still, the float bore a sign with an ominous reminder to parents: Only 173 more shopping days til Christmas.