Thousands take in Sesquicentennial Parade By Patrick Morrison
Plain Talk Main Street Vermillion was packed Saturday morning, Aug. 8, as thousands gathered to celebrate the sesquicentennial parade. Parade organizer Paul Erickson said he and other organizers where impressed with the turnout and enthusiasm of the spectators. "The parade participants all showed up with bells on and the crowd showed up in the midst of the summer heat," Erickson said. "I think the Vermillion Founding Fathers would have been incredibly pleased to have seen nearly 2,000 Vermillion residents turn out with pride to celebrate the anniversary of Vermillion's birth." Gloria Christopherson, wife of Vermillion Mayor Dan Christopherson, said she was excited to see the number of people from the Vermillion community who came out to celebrate the 150th anniversary. "I only got to see the last part of the parade, but it's amazing to see how many people came out to watch the parade," Christopherson said. "There were different places along the route that were pretty solid with people." Christopherson rode in the mayoral vehicle with her husband and two children and said the parade was especially important to her and her family. "Back when (Vermillion) did the 'Days of '59,' my husband's father was instrumental in helping to plan that event, so that's why it has been so important to him to make sure this was a weekend to be remembered." A focal point of the Sesquicentennial weekend, the parade was advertised in the local papers and elsewhere to encourage members of the community to enter, Erickson said. "We had 60 or so entrants with a few late-comers on Saturday," Erickson said. "I was terribly impressed at the work and labor that individual organizations put into their entries." Entrants in the parade included a procession of John Deere tractors driven by the Gregoire family of Wakonda and Vermillion, the Corn Palace Hillbillies from Mitchell, representatives from the Tri-State Old Iron Association and the Vermillion High School marching band. Keith Preister of Humphrey, NE, said he enjoyed the parade, especially the vintage cars, farm equipment and the Rhythm Riders, a mounted precision riding group from Vermillion. "I grew up around horses so it was interesting to see how they dressed up the horses and performed maneuvers in the street," Preister said. Cleo Erickson, a member of the Sesquicentennial Executive Committee, said she was excited to see the community come together and honor Vermillion residents Merle and Eleanor Offerdahl. "Merle is the former mayor and police chief of Vermillion and Eleanor taught in the public schools for many years and has been involved in the Civic Council for decades," Cleo Erickson said. "They have both done great things for Vermillion and we wanted to honor them by making them the parade marshals." Cleo Erickson said she was also pleased to see Sid and Reiddella Engman participate in the parade as the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Saturday. For Paul Erickson, the sense of history and community fostered by the parade was one of the highlights of the Sesquicentennial weekend. "In an age in which all information is fleeting, in which we are constantly instant messaging and Twittering, it's encouraging to see that a community still wants to step back and say 'Thank you' to their forefathers and all those who have gone before," he said.