Wrapped head to toe in a puff of yellow feathers nearly as wide as she was tall, 5-year-old Marin Wight flapped homemade wings and wooed the crowd Saturday at the Petaluma Egg Farms Cutest Little Chick in Town Contest.
Even the judges, looking serious as they observed the proceedings from tables in the back of a pickup truck, let an "aah" escape as Wight beamed her innocent smile.
It took 60 feet of boas and a whole lot of toil to make the costume, said Wight's mother, Shelly Hernandez of Petaluma.
Wight was one of 72 tiny contestants bedecked in baby chick costumes, part of Petaluma's annual Butter and Egg Days parade and festival.
"Look at that wing span," boomed emcee Jeff Mayne, president of the Petaluma Downtown Association. "Every year this contest seems to grow and grow. We've got a lot of chicks to consider."
In a festival to celebrate the city's rich agricultural roots, thousands of revelers relaxed in lawn chairs that lined the downtown streets and the steps of the historic library. Plumes of bubbles blown by children floated through the air, mingling with the smoke from barbecues.
One toddler festooned with white downy feathers and denim overalls, Addison Stanley, 6 months, relaxed to an Otis Redding song on a wagon refashioned as a fishing dock.
"We looked up the history of Petaluma, and they had the fishing pier down at the wharf," said her mother, Jennifer Stanley.
Cheerleaders with glittering red and blue pom-poms and sailor hats hugged as they recognized each other on the street. And suddenly, a flash mob of giddy teens from St. Vincent de Paul High School broke into a dance routine to the hit song "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO in the middle of Kentucky Street.
"It's really a highlight," said Roy Rangel, 81, of Petaluma, who enjoyed the festivities with his wife Laura. "It's refreshing, and it's really therapy for the older people."
As the parade of floats and marching bands made its way down Fourth Street, Laura Bell Way, 44, glided through town on pink roller skates. The volunteer with the Rivertown Revival festival held a parasol as a graceful shield from the sun.
"It's my first time skating through the streets of Petaluma," Way said. "It's a great way to do it, here at the parade."
The crowd estimated at more than 20,000 filled all the hotel rooms in town, said Richard Shockley, operations manager for Butter and Egg Days.
As he guided pedestrian traffic during the parade, Shockley remembered Bill Rhodes, a founder of the Petaluma River Festival and recipient of the city's Good Egg award, who died in February.
"It's a tough year without him," Shockley said. "He's missed. He's standing right here with me."