Sandwiched in between police patrol cars and fire engines were Howe athletes of all ages, riding with their teammates in the first Silver Spike arade Saturday. The parade replaced the earlier-scheduled, rained-out community pep rally. The parade was named for the Silver Spike trophy, which changes its home each year, depending on who wins the Howe vs. Van Alstyne High School football game, which will be played Friday on the Van Alstyne H.S. football field.

Michelle Walker, who polished it up to a sparkling sheen, said the Silver Spike is an actual railroad spike. Her husband, Monte Walker, carried the Silver Spike atop a Howe fire engine at the end of the Saturday parade. He traced its origin back to the early 1980s, adding that the two football teams have played each other for 53 years, beginning in 1935. Not fuzzy math, Walker added, because there have been several years when the two teams didn’t play one another.

Cole Davidson, who had a son on one of the floats, talked about last year’s community pep rally.

“All the kids from flag football age (and) up ran through the (blow-up football) helmet (and tunnel), got on the football field and everybody did a dance,” he said.

He added that, since the pep rally had to be cancelled because of the rain, Saturday’s parade was a great replacement.

“Just look at all the people here — it’s a great community,” Davidson said.

Laughter was the sound of the day during the line-up process at the Howe Middle School. Children rode scooters while their older siblings put the finishing touches on floats. Black and white were the colors flown everywhere — balloons, on uniforms, hand-made signs, streamers, Bulldog mascots and many of the vehicles pulling the floats were either black or white. The parade wound from the middle school to downtown, wrapped around the fire station and Baptist church, and headed west on Haning Street until it made its way south, full circle, to the same school where it began.

Children on those floats tossed candy, sending their spectator friends scurrying to grab as much as they could. Others smiled and waved.

The floats were lined up, basically, by the ages of the participants. Right behind the lead patrol car, and in order, were: Flag football players, second-grade cheerleaders and football players, third and fourth-grade football players, third through sixth-grade cheerleaders, fifth-sixth grade football, seventh-grade cheerleaders and football players, eighth-grade cheerleaders and football players, volleyball players, the Howe Riding Club, junior varsity cheerleaders and football players, cross country team, varsity cheerleaders and the football team, all followed by the city’s fire engines.

Howe long-time resident Chris Wise said that the competition between Howe and Van Alstyne is a good kind of rivalry, all done in fun. He remembered with a smile that once in the 1980s several individuals from Howe were wrapping Van Alstyne, while at the same time there were folks from Van Alstyne wrapping Howe. All good-natured, he added, since both cities are all small towns and have to stick up for each other to be stronger.

The junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams also take on Van Alstyne Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m.on the V.A. courts.