Helena's iconic Vigilante Parade is set to step off at noon Friday downtown.
This marks the 95th year of the event, which is one of the longest-running high school parades in the United States.
First celebrated in 1924, the parade is a tradition born of rivalry between graduating high school seniors and juniors. That early rivalry was marked by fights between the two classes, but today’s tradition sparks wholesome competition between all students from Helena and Capital high schools to see who can build the best float.
Dedicated to the pioneers that settled in Helena, the floats are supposed to represent a historic Helena institution or figure.
Helena High School Assistant Principal Willie Schlepp said somewhere between 90 and 100 floats are registered for this year's parade.
The parade will start at the intersection of Helena Avenue and Last Chance Gulch. It will proceed south on Last Chance Gulch, west on Broadway Street and north on Park Avenue and end at the Helena Civic Center.
Awards are planned for all parade categories. Schlepp said the most popular categories will have prizes for first, second and third.
Most of this year's sign-ups were for the historic Helena, pioneer life and Helena business categories. However, there were several entries for the other categories, including: American Indian, famous people, antique vehicles and mining and transportation.
There will also be awards given to the "most historic/authentic" float, judged by the Montana Historical Society, and the grand champion of the parade.
"These prizes are generated through the kind donations of our Helena community," Schlepp said.
There will be no school Friday for high school students. Elementary students will be dismissed early at 11 a.m.
The Independent Record will stream the parade live online for those who can't make it or just don't want to make their way through the crowds.
The live stream will be prominently displayed at www.HelenaIR.com at noon.