More than two decades after its first downtown trot, the All-Horse Parade once again will precede Delaware County Fair week.

More than two decades after its first downtown trot, the All-Horse Parade once again will precede Delaware County Fair week.

Twenty-two years ago, a group of Delaware County residents and horse enthusiasts organized the first All-Horse Parade to boost community spirits and kick off the Delaware County Fair.

Next Sunday, many of the original organizers will lead at least 500 horses through the streets of Delaware for the same purposes.

Sponsored by Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 18 of Delaware, the 2008 installment of the All Horse Parade will take off from the Delaware County Fairgrounds at 3 p.m. It will travel throughout downtown Delaware before returning to the fairgrounds.

"We'll go east on Pennsylvania Avenue before turning south onto Sandusky Street," said Diane Winters, All-Horse Parade chairwoman for the past 19 years. "Then we'll go west onto Winter Street, north onto Liberty Street, west onto Lincoln Avenue and back north onto Euclid Avenue to go back to the fairgrounds.

"We have such a great show, a great product, planned for the community. It's just a great time."

Established just prior to the 1986 Delaware County Fair as part of the now-defunct Little Brown Jug Festival, the All Horse Parade has grown from a procession of about 50 horses. This year's parade will include 26 different equine breeds.

Parade participants such as marching bands from Delaware Hayes, Buckeye Valley and Olentangy Liberty high schools are expected to return.

New twists are planned for this year's parade, as well. They will include an appearance by Legends Posse, a Dayton-area group whose members impersonate Western luminaries such as Roy Rogers, Wyatt Earp, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Additionally, the parade will take on a historic theme in keeping with the city and county bicentennial celebrations.

In recognition of their work to organize bicentennial events, Brent Carson and Rick Helwig will be the parade's co-grand marshals.

"There's quite a history of horses in Delaware and Delaware County, from our 4-H groups at the fair to the Little Brown Jug," Winters said.

"This year being the bicentennial, we're giving people the option of dressing in red, white and blue, or wearing time-period clothing," she said.

As in years past, Winters said, spectators will be permitted to scrawl squares on the roadways for "Horse Drop Bingo." Members of Ohio Wesleyan University's Sigma Chi fraternity will perform their philanthropic duties by clearing the streets and make-shift bingo spaces as the parade passes through the city.

"The parade is a promotion to kick off the Delaware County Fair and it's still to promote community spirit," she said. "We're billed as the largest nonmotorized parade -- because we're all horses ponies and donkeys -- east of the Mississippi (River)."

In addition to viewing the parade and planning porch, yard and garage parties along its route, Winters said those who wish to commemorate the event again this year will be able to purchase videos of the festivities. Information about the videos can be obtained by calling (740) 363-0790.

nellis@thisweeknews.com