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Wichita police parade draws community supporters, some protesters

Wichita police Officer Tim Baird show off his dance moves Saturday during the Support Local Law Enforcement Community Parade in downtown Wichita.
Wichita police Officer Tim Baird show off his dance moves Saturday during the Support Local Law Enforcement Community Parade in downtown Wichita. The Wichita Eagle

A good parade has marching bands and candy tossed to kids.

A great parade has police dogs, a bomb-retrieving robot, bagpipes and Popsicles.

Around 2,500 people lined Main Street between Central and First Street on Saturday afternoon for the Support Local Law Enforcement Community Parade, an event that had all of the above. It was sponsored by the police union and was intended, its organizers said, to provide police and community members a chance to mingle.

There were about 70 entries in the parade, including Wichita police officers on horseback, firefighters, police representatives from surrounding towns and lots of police dogs and police vehicles, including an air boat and the bomb robot.

It also had a dancing police officer. Tim Baird, who became locally famous on Facebook when he was recently caught on video showing off his dance moves at a groundbreaking for a new Habitat for Humanity home, boogied down the parade route in uniform.

The spectators included off-duty officers and people who said they just wanted to show their support for law enforcement.

Diane Fonzo, a Wichitan whose stepfather was a police officer, came to watch with her husband, Jim.

“We all live in the same community,” Jim Fonzo said. “If we’re not going in the same direction, we have a problem.”

The event also drew a handful of protesters, some holding signs that said “End police violence.” Among them was community activist Mike Shatz, who has headed the Occupy Wichita group. The protesters said they were speaking for people in Wichita and across the country – in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore – who have had their rights violated by police.

“We all support law enforcement, and we want to see every officer come home at the end of the day safely,” he said. “At the same time, we’re very concerned about civil rights, and that’s why we’re here.”

Reach Denise Neil at 316-268-6327 or dneil@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @deniseneil.

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