Parades are an evolving part of our heritage.

All have something in common (a parade is, after all, a parade), but each is made up of many elements (marchers, riders, vehicles, dignitaries, clowns and such). We'd be disappointed if our favorite part was not included, but these, too, change from year to year - and parade to paradeTake marching bands for instance.

Musical instruments were first included in parades during the Middle Ages, when a trumpeter would herald the arrival of the king's procession. Later, parades of medieval times included monkeys trained to dance to the beat of tambourines or drums.

In our own country, John Adams asked for the Fourth of July to be celebrated with drums, flutes and men marching with flags. Utah's first parade in 1849 included a brass band.

Candy came to parades in the 19th century. Throwing candy originated in New Orleans as part of the Mardi Gras in the early 1870s, when the king of the parade threw small treats from his float. Such parades were sponsored by mystic societies anxious to convince spectators that their floats were better than others.

Today, politicians throw salt-water taffy to spectators along the parade routes.

Clowns first became part of the parade in the 1840s. At that time, circuses were just gaining popularity, and the circus act would parade through town to drum up circus customers. Soon clowns were a favorite part of the circus parade, and now no parade is complete without at least one clown.

The first recorded float appeared in a parade during the evening of Mardi Gras Day on Feb. 24, 1868. The parade, in Mobile, Ala., was followed by two more the next day. Utah's first parade with floats occurred only eight years later as part of the United States Centennial.

Horses were used in early parades to pull wagons and to carry participants. In the Middle Ages, horses were an integral part of every parade because they were the primary mode of travel.

Beauty queens first appeared in a national parade during the 1921 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City on Sept. 7 and 8 of that year. However, Utah floats carried beauty queens in parades July 2, 3, and 4, 1896. The state carnival queen appeared in the Salt Lake parade, and each county also chose a queen who participated.

Automobiles became a part of parades on Sept. 7, 1899, in Newport, R.I., when society leaders from Boston, New York and Philadelphia decorated their cars with flowers and flags and drove them down the parade route.

Probably the most famous parade outside of Utah is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, but paradegoers often have a favorite of their own - the one they happen to be at on a particular day.