The parade originally began in the early 1900s as a way for the health department to extend services to newly-arrived immigrant families and families with newborn babies. At that time, the babies didn't dress up in elaborate costumes like they do today, but instead wore their Sunday best. There is even a trophy in the Hoboken Historical Museum for "Best Baby," awarded at the parade in 1914. The modern version of the parade is in its 11th year, and now parents go all out. The parade is still sponsored by local doctors and daycare centers, which sort of keeps with its original intent.
Of course, being exceptionally proud new parents ourselves, we had to participate. As you see on the flyer above, they were awarding trophies in the following categories: Best Dressed Child, Most Creative Carriage and Best Dressed Family. As you've seen through our regular torture of Achilles with costumes and outfits, we like to dress helpless things up in adorable outfits, so Ellie was doomed from the start. But, as I mentioned, we are new parents and thus didn't have a whole lot of time to plan. We knew we wouldn't win Best Carriage, because we just couldn't find the time to devote to an elaborate stroller design and we knew other parents would go all out. We also figured Best Dressed Child was off the table, as there would be tons of children in fancy costumes, and we just don't have any fancy costumes for Ellie yet (operative word being YET!). But, we thought we could put her in one of her prettier dresses, which happened to be an adorable little sailor dress. And hey, doesn't Achilles also have a red, white and blue outfit? (Yes.) And don't Eric and I also have red, white and blue we could wear? And just like that, we figured we would give the Best Dressed Family award a shot with a patriotic ensemble.
Our patriotic family
Ellie all ready for the parade, and looking quite fetching if I do say so myself!
Registration for the parade started at noon in Sinatra Park (just outside our apartment building), with the actual parading set to begin at 1:00 p.m. We made it down there around 12:30, which left us plenty of time to register, have a family photo taken, and check out all the other decked out little ones.
The baby girl in this stroller was dressed as a chef, with her stroller decked out in spaghetti and meatballs!
A safari-themed stroller, complete with cardboard cutout animals they carried alongside it!
Police car stroller, complete with working lights on top
Eric and me with our "kids" before the parade began!
Just after 1:00, they had us all get into a line and we started marching south along the waterfront to Pier A Park. Ellie and I walk this path almost every day, so she totally knew the way. She was a parade-marching natural. (Actually, she slept the whole way, but I could tell she knew just what she was doing.)
The start of the parade
Eric and Achilles marching along the water
Way to go, Ellie! Marching in her first parade!
Marching through Pier A Park
We suspect Ellie was the youngest participant in the parade, although not by much - as we marched, we met another family with a little baby who we found out was also born on March 29th! However, he was born in the morning, and Ellie was born in the afternoon. So to our knowledge, she was the youngest there!
When we had done the full loop of Pier A Park, they had us all stand off to the side as the judges came around to review everyone's efforts. Ellie woke up from her stroller nap just in time to turn on the charm for the judges. When two different judges asked for our number, we started to get hopeful - maybe we would actually win Best Dressed Family! We really figured that having the dog dressed up too would be the thing that put us over the edge into winner territory.
But, Ellie didn't even need the rest of us. We should have known! Instead of relying on the dog and the rest of the family's patriotism, Ellie won Best Dressed Child all on her own! We were so thrilled when they called us up to collect our trophy and pose for photos. Way to go, Ellie! Such a little fashionista!
Ellie with her proud daddy and her trophy
She's trying not to let the recognition go to her head.
After all the trophies were handed out (there were four trophies awarded in each category), they had all the winners line up to pose for a group shot.
(Photo by Lauren Casselberry of the Jersey Journal, found here)
We were just so proud of Ellie! So young and already the winner of a shiny trophy! She's such an overachiever. Of course, her mom did win a "Cutest Baby" contest herself when she was a baby (my picture was in the newspaper and everything!), so I guess she's just a chip off the ol' block. Ha! But really, we were very, very proud parents.
We were on such a winner's high that we didn't want the afternoon to end, so we found a nice quiet bench in Pier A Park to give Ellie her celebratory lunch, then we walked north along the water and just tried to soak up the gorgeous weather. It was such a beautiful day!
Ellie and Daddy hanging out in the shade
Left: Post-lunch cuddles with Mommy; Right: Views of the city from "Hoboken Beach"
And that was our day at the Hoboken Baby Parade! We're so proud of our little award-winning baby, and we'll definitely be back next year to see if she can defend her title. Way to go, baby girl!
My pretty girl in her "Best Dressed" outfit!
Although I can't help but wonder if Achilles is upset that she's stealing his thunder...