September 16, 2003
Last Saturday was kind of a typical Cherokee Strip Celebration Day. Off to an uncertain start because of a heavy rainfall, it appeared the annual parade was in danger of being called off. It's the single biggest feature of our biggest municipal celebration, and hundreds of people were lined up around the square long before the official starting time, 10 a.m. Rain was still falling at that point, so the start of the parade was postponed for 30 minutes, until 10:30 a.m. Our local PIN station on channel 19 telecast that information, but it still caught a lot of us by surprise.
When the designated time did arrive and the color guard started a trek on the north side of the square, the usual crowd was on hand -- your estimate of the size is as good as anybody's, but there certainly were several thousand children and adults lining the parade route. Unfortunately, some of the vendors and concessionaires who had purchased operating rights on the Courthouse Park may have been rained out. Still, there were many who functioned without missing a beat. The County Fair and the carnival at the fairgrounds stuck to their schedule, although the weather did have some effect on all the events. Rain? Who cares! We've had these celebrations in spite of snow, other rain storms, and even the occasional good weather.
I agree with the Celebration planners that it's a good idea to have this event on the Saturday closest to the actual anniversary of the run. There are many valid reasons for that, but it does seem that we still should have some recognition of the official date of the run on September 16, whatever day of the week that may occur. We can still fly our flags and pause for a moment, say at noon on that day, as a tribute to those strong-willed men and women who made the run and made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the benefits of this blessed land. We must never forget what they endured here on the prairie frontier and what their strength and character mean to us.
Here's another idea that bears repeating: Let's outlaw the practice of throwing candy and other souvenirs from the parade entries. Children dart out into the street to pick up that stuff, and one of these days we are likely to have a major accident when a car, truck or other vehicle fails to see some of those youngsters scrambling on the street as they scoop up goodies off the asphalt. Watching that performance last Saturday was downright scary.
All in all, though, we've got to hand a major bouquet to everyone who had any part in putting this celebration together. Despite the rain delay, hundreds of Noble countyans and visitors were treated to a good time. Celebration week is becoming very popular for Perry High School class reunions. Traditions are being born every year. Perry can take pride in rightfully boasting that we are the only town in the old Cherokee Strip that has never failed to have a celebration of the great run since the official opening on September 16, 1893. Our ancestors would be proud.