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story.lead_photo.caption Ethan Weston/News Tribune The Duttons play music for guests at the Bicentennial Inaugural Ball on Saturday, September 18, 2021 in Jefferson City, Mo. The Duttons are a family of multigenerational musical performers who appear regularly in Branson, Mo.

Budweiser Clydesdales, state history and the beat of marching drums brought thousands to the streets of the capital city Saturday for a celebration of Missouri's 200 years of statehood.

The Bicentennial's 100-piece parade rolled out along High Street from the Capitol to start the day of activities and events.

Jefferson City Police Department led the parade, followed by the Parade Grand Marshall and World War II veterans, multiple marching bands, elected officials, state agencies and numerous community organizations from around the state.

Arriving in a WWII military Jeep, Parade Marshall Edith Harrington, a 98-year-old United States Cadet Nurse Corps nurse who served in WWII, led the way for Gov. Mike Parson and the rest of Missouri's elected officials.

The 1.5-mile parade route was lined with wagons, lawn chairs and eager parade goers of all ages from around the state.

Linda Whittle, who traveled to Jefferson City from Russellville for the parade, said the grand event met her expectations.

Whittle, like many others in the crowd, was most excited to see the Budweiser Clydesdales that brought up the rear.

Laramie Thompson, of Jefferson City, also said the Clydesdales brought her out to the parade.

"We don't get to see them very often," Thompson said. "There's a lot of parades in Jeff City, but not usually the Clydesdales."

Mike and Karen Litteken, of Columbia, said they had never seen the Clydesdales before, but they were a fantastic addition to the parade.

Mike Litteken said he also appreciated the state's display of various historical artifacts and events throughout the parade. He said it was a good way for Missourians to get closer to their history.

"There's a lot of history here I think we take for granted and we don't talk enough about," Mike Litteken said. "There's a lot of really cool stuff here."

Linda Surber, of Poplar Bluff, said the parade was a neat way to celebrate the state's history.

Between the various marching bands, Clydesdales and JC Penney's 1947 Cadillac, Surber said the parade had a lot to offer.

"You don't get the chance to see a good parade very often these days," she said.

Larry and Judy Sifford, who traveled from Branson, said they appreciated the tractors, marching bands and military participants.

With family walking in the parade with the Missouri State Parks Department, Linda Blakesley, of Troy, said the parade was an important occasion so she and her husband made the trip to Jefferson City.

"It was kind of special just to see everybody coming out for it and Missouri making a big deal about it," Blakesley said.

After months spent indoors, some parade watchers were excited to attend a large community event.

"Even though it's late, it's nice that we're doing something like this and we don't have to worry because it's outdoors," Thompson said. "It's a beautiful day for a parade and seeing all the families out."

Holly Enowski, of Eldon, said the parade was more than welcome after COVID-19 put them on hold for several months.

Following the parade, the governor and first lady hosted an ice cream social at the Governor's Mansion, taking time to greet attendees in line for a scoop.

Within about an hour, all 1,000 free scoops provided by the Ice Cream Factory were sold out.

Ice Cream Factory owner Shannon Imler said he was happy to provide the frozen treat for free.

Imler said the Governor's Office offered to buy 500 scoops of ice cream to give out, but he wanted to double the offering and donate it entirely.

"We love Missouri, and we're proud to be a Missouri made ice cream," Imler said.

Columbia resident Sunny Hoffman and her son enjoyed a scoop of Brownie Blast at the ice cream social and gave the experience two thumbs up.

"It's free ice cream, and it's a cool thing to do for the community, and it's a beautiful day," Hoffman said.

Missouri's Bicentennial festivities didn't stop there.

Throughout the morning and afternoon, Missouri's professional sports trophies and bicentennial displays were drawing in Missourians from around the state to the Capitol.

Curt Nelson, director of the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame, said it was a rare occasion to have all the trophies from the state's various sports teams under one roof.

"We've had an opportunity to work with the Chiefs on an event here or there, where some of the trophies have been together, but this is really unique to have all of them from across the state," Curt Nelson said. "I've never seen this many of the different trophies in the same place at the same time. It's very cool."

He said he was happy to see the visiting crowds, because Missourians might not get the same opportunity again.

Jefferson City resident Jon Nelson and his family found the trophies after watching the parade.

"While we were nearby, we thought we would take advantage of seeing all of Missouri's victories over the years as well," Jon Nelson said. "It's neat to get up close and see them in person."

Jon Nelson said he was most excited to see the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl and Cardinals World Series trophies on display.

His two children also enjoyed wearing the Chief's ring, even though it was too big, they said.

In the evening, more than 2,200 Missourians gathered at the Capitol north lawn and portico for the Bicentennial Inaugural Ball.

The Grand March of Missouri's elected officials, which kicked off with Judge Zel Fischer walking out to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "I Won't Back Down," began shortly after 6 p.m.

Miss Missouri State Fair Queen Rosie Lenz, from Prairie Home, said the ball was a wonderful event to meet new people, interact with Missouri government officials and see the Capitol.

"I think it showcases a lot of our great leadership and just brings a lot of wonderful people together," Lenz said.

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