BARSTOW Barstow's famous Kiwanis Mardi Gras Parade will be lighting up Main Street this Saturday night with floats, bands, and equestrian groups.

The theme this year is "Barstow's Youth: Riding the Wave of the Future."

This year's grand marshal is Ernie Smith, 75, who has been running Barstow's Judo Club since he moved to Barstow in 1971.

Smith has helped hundreds of Barstow's children achieve their goals in judo and he has also helped them gain self-confidence. He says that judo helps children develop mentally and physically.

"Usually when the kids come in, they're not good at any sports," said Smith. "After about a year of training, they can do whatever they want."

About 65 of the children that Smith trained became national champions in judo, with a handful becoming international champions as well.

In the Kiwanis tradition of honoring children, the Mardi Gras Parade always has a king and queen from a local elementary school. This year's king and queen are both sixth-graders who attend Crestline Elementary School.

Dominic Manley, 12, is this year's King and Samantha Murphy, 11, is this year's Queen. Dave Finch, principal of Crestline Elementary, said that both students were chosen for their citizenship, academics, and relationships with their peers.

Bea Lint, co-chair of this year's parade, said that there will be a total of 75 entries in the Mardi Gras Parade this year from various organizations, schools, and businesses.

"It always amazes me that are such a large number of organizations in our community," said Lint.

The Mardi Gras Parade started in 1931 and is the longest continuously running parade that the Kiwanis Club knows about, said Lint.

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(760) 256-4122 or kjonas@desertdispatch.com