Babies parade on Court Square

Amber Merrill cried when her 6-month-old daughter won the Soldiers Reunion Baby Parade.

Though Merrill cried tears of joy for Peyton’s win, she also cried because her daughter’s father wasn’t there to see her win the birth to age 1 division of the parade.

Peyton’s father, Ethan Merrill, is serving time in Afghanistan, where he has been for about 10 weeks. “We’re very proud,” Merrill said of her daughter’s win.

Dozens of babies from birth to 4 years old entered the contest at the Old Courthouse Square on Wednesday.

Entries ranged from a future Miss Reunion winner to a toddler dressed in Army fatigues. All babies were pushed, pulled, carried or driven in strollers and wagons.

Each baby was supposed to display patriotism, whether through miniature flags; red, white and blue decorations; or depicting a famous American patriot.

Merrill pulled Peyton, who was dressed in a blue and white sailor dress, in a wagon with her father’s picture on the side.

Merrill, who is staying in Conover while Ethan is overseas, said she thought it would be fun to enter Peyton in the contest.

“(Ethan) knew she was going to be in the parade,” Merrill said. “Now we have to tell him (Peyton won).”