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Was this Old Settlers' Day the best ever?

You know the familiar line about what’s certain in life — death and taxes.

For life in Marion, there’s another item to add to the list, the annual declaration in the Marion County Record that, in one way or another, the most recent Old Settlers’ Day was “the best ever.”

There are things about this year’s festivities that could qualify for “best ever” status. The turnout for the early morning run at Marion County Lake was huge compared to other years, with about 100 people there to support Steve Janzen and the “Crushing Cancer” campaign; surely that’s the best ever for that event.

And how many times has the parade featured someone celebrating 80 years since graduating from Marion High School? Irene Richmond, 98 years young, looked just right in that red Mustang convertible, and together with the six military veterans as grand marshals, and all the class reunion floats, some would say that qualifies as “best ever.”

The weather was certainly some of the best we’ve ever had for Old Settlers’ Day. Marion High, Marion Middle School, and Peabody-Burns High bands were sharp and lively, a dedicated group kept the Rube Band alive for another year, and the crowd along the parade route was as enthusiastic as ever. People eating lunch and reminiscing filled the park, as always, and the games were contested as fiercely as ever.

Personally, I’m undecided if this was the “best ever” Old Settlers’ Day. I missed seeing church floats in the parade this year, as they’ve always been some of the more detailed and creative ones. Kids with decorated bicycles and pets were in short supply. Many people that have been my own “OSD regulars” over the years weren’t there Saturday, and I missed them, too.

So it’s time to invoke another old saying: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is a way of saying that it all depends on what you choose to look at. Using the past as my measuring stick, I’m undecided. But maybe, as with some other things, I need to throw that stick away.

I’ll look instead to those people I saw with smiles that said it was their “best ever” Old Settlers’ Day. Young children with bags of candy or shiny quarters for winning a race. Classmates who renewed old friendships one more time. Kiwanis volunteers who looked back at the end of the day with pride at pulling off yet another terrific edition of the town’s historic signature festival.

That Old Settlers’ Day has continued year after year to unite the community in fun and fellowship is something that makes Marion special. It’s a tradition that re-creates itself every year, and never fails to give some people a “best ever” experience. How could something like that be anything other than the “best ever Old Settlers’ Day we’ve ever had”?

It couldn’t. Once again, it was the best ever.

— david colburn

Last modified Oct. 1, 2014

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