Fresno Unified celebrates at Kids First Festival

Despite gloomy skies, an estimated 2,000 people turned out for food, music and what was billed as "the world's shortest parade" at Fresno Unified School District's Kids First Festival on Sunday.

The free event has been held for more than 20 years and blocked off Echo Avenue in front of Fresno High School.

"It allows us to see all the great things happening at our schools," said Fresno Unified spokeswoman Susan Bedi. "It just shows the pride in this school district."

Students from school performance groups, including Hmong dancers and jazz bands, performed on the stage in front of the high school. Youngsters in costume trick-or-treated at booths offering candy. And booths raised money for school clubs, including folklorico dancers Danzantes de Roosevelt, which raised $300 and sold out of its tamales and tostadas.

One of the highlights of the event was what organizers dubbed "the world's shortest parade."

Spanning just the portion of Echo Avenue in front of Fresno High, the parade included employees with classic cars, costumed children in a compressed natural gas-powered school bus and one giant marching band made up of multiple schools.

"I like the parade, how different schools come together into one band," said 16-year-old Fresno High student Nancy Khim.

Musicians from different schools playing together is rare but has its benefits, said Maxine Dadoorian, part of the Hoover High School band boosters group and a Fresno Unified school bus driver.

"They get together, and they talk together and make new friends," she said. "Next time they go to a parade they'll say, 'Hey, I remember you.' "