What’s not to love about a July 4 parade?

Children taking part in Wednesday night's annual 3rd of July parade in Gilbert toss candy to the crowd.

Alas, the 3rd and 4th of July parades have come and gone. Another birthday of our country is past, the marking of another year to live in this nation, with all of its flaws, but still the greatest nation on Earth.

As this writer waxes poetic about the 243rd birthday of the United States of America, she thinks back on the recent days when we celebrated with parades and fireworks and camaraderie. And how for so many of us the celebration never gets old, and neither do we, never mind that the birthdays say otherwise. I love it, and so apparently do thousands of others across our area. We know it by the rows of chairs set up on the main street by parade goers wanting a front seat. We know it by the lines of cars streaming to find parking places, and by the crowds who look skyward to enjoy the fireworks.

Truth be told, being part of a parade committee for the past 25-plus years is one of my favorite things on the planet. I have the late Edward Schneider to thank. One day as I was on my morning walk, Mr. Schneider spoke to me from his yard, asking if I had ever thought about joining, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now Chairman Ed's daughter and son-in-law, Rachael and John Skalko, are on our committee of eight — Chairman Johno, Rachael Skalko, Barb Lyons, Mary Skorjanec, Linda Currie, Herb Ocepek, Mike Bradach and me. We thank Bill and Traci Addy for their dedication in doing the Kiddie Parade, and Mary Jo Prinozich for ably assisting the night of the parade. And we gladly welcome others who might wish to join the organization.

For this committee member, there's a certain sadness that sets in once the parade is over, when the chairs are no longer lining the main street, when the traffic is back to normal, when everyday life resumes and the phone quits ringing with just one more parade entry.

But wait — the telephone just rang, and it was Wayne Trenholm of Makinen, the fireworks operator, calling to ask if we were satisfied with the show. Oh, definitely, I told him — and the weather was spectacular for the show done by Pyrotechnic Display Inc. of Clear Lake, Minn.

And what's a parade without convertibles. Denny Pershern has been driving his 1965 Plymouth Sport Fury in the Gilbert parade nearly 50 years. Laurie Greben drives each year's Little Miss Gilbert in her red convertible. And this year Terry Saatela drove Mayor Karl Oberstar Jr. in his beautiful red Corvette.

The Shriners parade units are spectacular — the North Star Shrine Cycle Patrol and the Dune Buggies and the Aad Temple Shrine Drum and Bugle Corps, and next year, the Shriners little Mustang cars will be back. This year our friends to the north, the Fort Frances Highlanders and the Rainy Lake Highlanders, were unable to attend, but hope they'll return in 2020. We were thrilled to have four high school bands — Eveleth-Gilbert, Mesabi East, Virginia and Hibbing.

There were muscle cars and horses with riders and fire trucks from all the surrounding communities. There were queens and classic cars and floats and the patriotically decorated Hometown Electric truck. There was grand marshal Willie Persern. There were great veterans leading the parade, and Tom Gentilini Jr.'s 5-ton Army truck. And there were lots and lots of supporters who donated monetarily to support our cause.

So what's not to love about a parade celebrating Independence Day?


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