KILN -- Horses, riders, mules, wagons and Santa Claus all made their way through Kiln Sunday afternoon -- a quarter century-long tradition that also benefits Hancock County children.
The Christmas horse parade, which featured 100 participants of all ages, has been rolling for more than two decades -- though no one can seem to remember exactly how long.
It's a loosely organized event, though Facebook has begun to supplement word-of-mouth planning. It's the type of event where everyone knows each other, everyone looks forward to it, and no one minds if a participant takes a detour into a store or someone's yard if they encounter someone they know.
"I'm an old country boy and I love it," said Gregory Ladner of the Dedeaux community, who said he'd been in the parade for about 25 years. "This is what we do for the kids."
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The two-hour parade winds through the town and participants throw candy and beads like any other parade. It ends at the VFW hall where children can meet Santa Claus and participants are asked to donate an unwrapped toy.
Brian Ladner helped organize the parade portion of the event this year; his cousin started the parade more than two decades ago and it's grown since.
"We don't just come out here and ride for fun," he said. "It is for a good cause."
This year the toys were taken to the local Masonic Lodge, which then distributes the items among needy Hancock County children.
For Lindsey Lee Bounds, a teacher in Hancock County and parade participant, that aspect is particularly important.
"I know that it's possible that one of those toys will go to a child I know, so it's something that's personal for me," she said.
Karen Lewis, who organized the toy drive and activities at the VFW, said the number of items they receive varies over the years but they've had success with the initiative.
"We try to do what we can," she said. "It may not look like much to some but for the kids who need it, this is a lot."