The Joy of a Hometown Parade, June 28

I love a parade! Doesn't everybody? Last week, my hometown of Pender, Neb. (pop. 1,143) had its Q125 celebration. And as with almost every town celebration, there's gotta be a parade.

Pender was no different. The town did it up right. With not one, but two parades. Of course, we wanted to be in attendance.

So on Saturday, Jon and I took the kids on the 97 mile drive to Northeast Nebraska. The Pender Q125 Grand Parade started at noon and according to my watch we would just make it in time.

We were south of West Point on Hwy 275, when a police officer had a line of vehicles stopped along the road. I just love being delayed and not knowing why! Not! So I called the Cuming County dispatch and found out we were in the middle of a cattle drive! Guys on horseback were moving cattle because of the floodwaters.

After about 15 minutes we were on our way...not a bad delay, unless you're trying to make a parade on time! Even though we got to Pender around 12:10, the parade hadn't started yet. Yeah!

We grabbed our chairs and "parade gear" (water, a camera, bag for candy, sunscreen, etc.) and found my family sitting under a tree on our church's lawn. Many people were wearing the special Q125 shirts in our Pendragon and white.

The parade started a bit late and it was hot, but that didn't dampen the spirits of those attending. Governor Dave Heineman led the parade, followed by Shriners, clowns, floats and bands. The kids ran for the candy! The big hit for kids at this parade? It would have to be the popsicles. My daughter shed a few tears before she finally got her icy treat.

I mentioned earlier that I had my "parade gear." Well, I wasn't as prepared as I bug repellent. And the mosquitoes in Pender were monsters! Poor Jon was attacked by these blood-sucking pests. He had a huge welt on his forehead. Instead of my sympathy, Jon received by laughter! "That's going to look great on TV Monday!", I chuckled. Yeah, I'm a bad wife. lol

I guess Pender had a run on bug repellent due to the standing water in the area. Luckily a nice lady gave us some spray and saved the day!

Pender wrapped up its celebration with an Antique Parade featuring classic cars and equipment on Sunday. The route was a bit shorter this time, around the Pender Park. But we enjoyed the entries just the same. I loved the draft horses pulling a wagon full of giggling children who were listening to their grandpa play his accordion.

I remember being in Pender's 100-year-celebration and riding alongside my grandpa (Poppy) in a wagon pulled by our team of Belgian horses. I wore a pink pioneer bonnet and threw out candy to anxious children. Now, my kids are those same anxious spectators, watching along this same parade route and hoping for a handful of candy. The route is the same, the people are what's different.

On a side note, it's actually Poppy's birthday today. He was my best friend and would have been 94. This old cowboy always joked that his birthday was a state holiday and the post offices would be closed. "No mail today, kids," he'd say. Poppy would have loved his town's parade. And he would have loved seeing his great-grandkids watching the parade.

Why do we love parades? Maybe it's because of the memories. Seeing an old, red Farmall M tractor stirs up visions of my dad and Poppy working on the farm. I can't believe those M and H Farmalls are viewed as "antique" now. Maybe we were farming in the past, but somehow the past doesn't seem that far away.

For a brief time, a parade brings a community together. It allows us to reflect on happy times and think about the future. My kids enjoyed the parade...the candy, the clowns and hopefully... a taste of the past.

Why do you love parades?...or maybe you don't. I'd like to hear from you either way.

Here's to funnel cakes!


About the Author...
Taryn Vanderford
Taryn Vanderford is an Emmy-winning journalist who currently works on "First at Four", "Pure Nebraska" and "Moms Everyday" for 10/11 and Gray Television.

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