Old Settlers’ dodge

Saturday’s Old Settlers’ Day was the first in recent memory where revelers peered skyward almost as much as they did forward.

Marion Kiwanis Club has long had a formula for a perfect Old Settlers’ Day, and the only showers in it are candy raining down on eager youngsters along the parade route.

Weather forecasters have perfected the art of ambiguity, but folks still pay enough heed that many of those exiting from the Kiwanis food tent in the park sported trays in one hand and umbrellas in the other.

I’m taking it on the word of others that the parade was one of the best in recent years because I saw just part of it: Mine.

If the parade assembly area had included hair colorists, plastic surgeons, and an ample supply of girdles, my Marion High School classmates and I would’ve looked exactly as we did when we graduated in 1976.

Still, we looked awfully darned good in our bicentennial-themed T-shirts as we rode and walked the gauntlet of cheering onlookers along Main St., and the wind kept our American flag grandly waving most of the way.

No one I’ve known has ever used the word “serious” to describe the Class of ’76, and judging from comments overheard in the park, our little gag of “pushing” our float up the hill as we neared the museum drew a few chuckles.

Being in the parade saved a little wear and tear on my right index finger and camera, as when I’m reporting I usually take about 600 pictures of floats, bands, cars, horses, kids, the Rube Band, et cetera. My parade total Saturday was under 100, with most being of that darned good-looking Class of 1976.

However, I haven’t a clue how good the parade was outside of us. I’m certain our presence elevated the entire event, but I’m also sure there were those who enjoyed the horse-trailing pooper scoopers more than our float. The great thing about Old Settlers’ Day parades has been that there’s always something for somebody, and that was undoubtedly the case again.

A good crowd filled the park afterward, and the games were as fun and spirited as ever.

Then came the rain. Scattered big drops became a full-fledged soaker as folks hastily deployed their umbrellas or scurried for cover under tents, and many called it a day right then and there.

Too bad for them, as the rain let up just in time for the Marion High School band to take the stage as scheduled. The sparse but enthusiastic crowd was treated to a spirited performance and they responded in kind.

Then came the rain. With most of the reunion classes dispersed by the first deluge, there was little point for the soggy remnant to parade across the stage, so introductions were scratched.

Readers accustomed to our Old Settlers’ Day recaps have been eagerly anticipating for several paragraphs our proclamation that this Old Settlers’ Day was the “best ever.”

At the risk of inducing debilitating disappointment, we’re going to dodge making that call this year, much as we had to dodge raindrops there at the end. I’ll pause a moment for a collective sigh of angst and bewilderment, with a warning to refrain from using this page as an impromptu hanky to dry your tears. You’ll look like your mascara is running if you do.

It came so very close to topping all prior years, but how could I deem it “best ever” when one of the day’s favorite activities got rained out? Until then, it was a serious contender for “best ever” honors, and a lot of folks probably left feeling that way anyway. But reunions are so integral to the day that missing out on seeing all of the classes parade across the stage left it just short.

However, here’s a tip for you “best ever” fans: Mark your calendars for 2021, which will surely be the best ever Old Settlers’ Day ever.

Why? Because the Class of ’76 will be back for our 45-year reunion, looking even better than how darned good we looked this year. Given that such a thing will be a miracle worthy of any saint, how could 2021 be anything other than “best ever?” That’s my forecast, and I’m sticking to it.

— david colburn

Last modified Sept. 28, 2016

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