BRADENTON -- Emily Daley stood at her closet Saturday morning and whispered to herself, "Now, which outfit will work the best?"
Emily, 8, knew she would be up against an estimated 5,000 children about her age in 10 hours, each clamoring to get the most beads tossed their way at the 2013 DeSoto Heritage Grand Parade in downtown Bradenton.
"I reasoned that if I wore the right shirt, I would get more thrown to me," said Emily, a Virgil Mills Elementary School student.
Emily wore an eye-catching blue, tie-dye "Pirate Girl" T-shirt because there are a lot of pirates on floats in the parade.
"She thought that out all by herself," said Emily's mother, Linda Daley.
The Daleys were among an estimated 20,000 who lined the closed-off streets of Bradenton.
Emily and her family set up their chairs right outside the Manatee County Administration Building in downtown Bradenton, where Emily's dad, Chris Daley, works in procurement.
They saw a tremendous array of attractions, from a bagpipe marching band to a 1852 replica of the Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by four quarter horses from Georgia, including one named Pistol.
The stage coach was a huge fan favorite.
"The crowd cheered like crazy for us," said Kate Hanson, the wrangler for the horses.
The crowd also cheered mightily for 315 runners who kicked off the parade, including Canaan Meester-Kitterman, a Bayshore High School track and cross country star who sprinted across the finish line in a blistering 15:46.7 to capture the 2013 De Soto 5K Run.
"The crowd was great," said Rick Henneman of Youngstown, Ohio, who was in the area on vacation and entered the race, finishing 11th overall in 18:37.4.
The last person to cross the finish line may have gotten the loudest applause.
Annabell Johnson, 3, finished in 53:17.4, holding the hand of her mom, Brittney Johnson.
The crowd also cheered and laughed with Sarah Martinez, 34, who ran in a tiara, a blue gown and white silk sash that read "DeSoto Race Queen."
"People loved it," said Martinez, a full-time student who also works in the Blake Medical Center Emergency Room and who has a creative mind.
"My husband made the sash," Martinez added.
Jim Jones, 66, a popular local figure who recently retired from the Herald after 13 years, ran a personal race best 26:32.3, good for third place in the male 65-69 age group and a bronze medal.
Bernadette Butler and Bob Black of Parrish watched the parade from chairs right in front of the courthouse. Bernadette's daughter, Bernadette Guttman, her husband, Sam, and grandchildren Hayden, 6, and Bradley, 2, were close by.
"This is my third parade and Bob's 10th," Bernadette Butler said.
Across the street, Dora Brown of Palmetto had Bob and Bernadette beat.
Brown will be 89 in two months and said she has never missed a parade.
Going to the Parade is part of what keeps Brown young, that and some advice from her doctor.
"He told me don't pay attention to anything anyone tells me and don't wear slides, flip flops or sandals," Brown said. "They can cause you to fall when you are my age. So, I wear shoes."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 6686, or on Twitter @RichardDymond.