Cowboys, buggys and Ridley Pearson – just another Saturday in Sun Valley

Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.

This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).

Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!

The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites.  ”I love playing for the children,” he said.

The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...

Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.

Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.

Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.

For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.

Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”

(Video not displaying? Click here)

And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Bill here.

While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

A delightful sight - baby doll buggys parked outside the Sun Valley Pavilion.


Tonight, Tuesday August 14, is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s last 2012 performance. The season finale features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64 and begins at 6:30 p.m.

For more pictures from the parade visit The Toy Store’s Facebook page here.

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