By Saturday morning it will become a float and be pulled by a pink truck down the streets of Sikeston, carrying pink-clad children, waving and throwing out handfuls of candy.
"I kind of get everybody excited to do this," said Janet Shanle, inventory manager at Duckett Truck Center, who is in charge of the company's float. The theme of the float, "Tough Kids Wear Pink, " mirrors a focus of this year's rodeo: teaming up with the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.
No one remembers how long the Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo parade has been a fixture in the Sikeston community, since it wasn't held for several years. What they do know, however, is that the parade resumed and took on its current route in 2001, and serves as an unofficial kickoff for rodeo week.
"It's an early thank you to all the people who come out and help," said Nathan Cox, Community Day chairman. "It's a good time to meet people, relax, socialize and have a good time before all of the hard work."
More than just floats wind through the streets of the parade. "Some just drive a big rig to advertise their company," Cox said. Bands, people riding horses or tractors and politicians can also be found among the procession.
Last year, about 30 groups comprised the parade. "We're hoping to have at least that many or more this year," Cox said, explaining there is no real count until registration the morning of the parade.
There is no set theme for the parade. "Really anything is OK," Cox said. But he suggested "if you've got something country or western, you might be more likely to win."
Judges, who are Jaycee wives or community residents, pick three prizes in each an adult and children's category, he continued. Winners in the children's division pocket some cash, while adult winners receive rodeo tickets.
Winning is nothing new to Shanle, who has been instrumental in creating Duckett's float since it began in 2002. In fact, the group has won first prize all four years, and wants to repeat again.
"I hope the judges will be excited about it this year," she said. "But I think it will be a big success."
Creating the float is a bigger chore from year to year. "Each year it gets bigger," Shanle said. The group started using a 16-foot trailer, which has now nearly quadrupled to the 52-foot trailer the workers have been building after hours.
To ensure every kid gets candy, Shanle has bought about 60 large variety bags of candy. "I always save three bags for the very end," she said, adding that some floats often run out of candy.
The children on the float, children and grandchildren of Duckett's employees, will get some sweets, too. "I make treat bags for every kid that's on my float," Shanle said. "That way they don't want to eat the candy they're throwing."
The Jaycees, who have a 45-foot float, stock up on the candy, too. "We've got about 50 pounds worth," Cox said. "We're going to make sure there's plenty."
A lot of time -- about 28 hours for several people involved -- and money goes into the float. But the bulk of Shanle's budget has gone to buying T-
shirts and other "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" items that benefit the ACS. Plus, it's all about the partnership. "A lot of Jaycees work here," Shanle said. "We really encourage the Duckett Truck Center, Sikeston rodeo and our families to work together."