Grand Marshal choice absolute perfection

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Another Fourth of July celebration in Coeur d’Alene is in the books. The Coeur d’Alene Chamber’s Hometown Heroes parade was again remarkable, in that even though the city has grown, it’s still such a small-town event. Sometimes we bemoan how our communities have changed and reminisce about the old days but I love how the sense of country, community and family is on full display on the Fourth of July.

The crowd favorite Perfection-Nots marching band made its 40th consecutive appearance in the Fourth of July parade. And no one was more surprised than founders Larry and Sharon Strobel to discover, when the group was about to enter the parade route, that a convertible was awaiting. They were the Grand Marshals!

In June 1977, an article in the Coeur d’Alene Press announced there would be no marching bands in the Fourth of July parade that year. High school bands were disbanded for the summer months.

So Larry and Sharon and assorted family members decided they could start a band for the parade, a band that would rely upon former CHS band members, high school and college musicians, professional musicians who lived locally, and just about anyone who owned an instrument and was willing to play and march.

The 140-member volunteer band is known as much for the outrageous and zany costuming of each member as it is for the surprisingly well-performed music and marching. For four decades, it has been a badge of honor to practice a time or two a few days before the parade and then march down Sherman Avenue to the delight of thousands.

Here’s to Larry and Sharon and those throughout our communities who step up and make things happen.

• • •

On the subject of the Fourth of July parade — it was, I believe, the best ever and I’ve attended for about a half-century. Loved the one-hour-earlier start time — the weather was warm but not sweltering and there were a few notable first-timers among the parade entries. Thelma Wellman made her parade debut at the age of 103. She was riding with her grandson-in-law, Deputy Glen Lauper of the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department. She wished the crowd well and was enjoying every minute. Also, the mother of Red Hot Mamas founder director Mikki Stevens, octogenarian Ruth McDermid made her parade debut. The Queen Mama was stylish and sparkly in a crown and sash, waving from the back of a convertible.

The Bubble Head Bob Brigade was a new entry this year, with generations of the late Bob Hough’s family making a mass appearance. Bob was known, and loved, as the Voice of North Idaho in his broadcasting career. Bob’s bride, Cokie, 88, was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as she waved and smiled at the crowds. Those paying attention may have spotted two bona fide celebs in the big family group ... Derek Hough and Julianne Hough.

Highlights were the rousing rendition of the national anthem to kick off the parade by Jadd Davis, the incredibly moving and sobering Fallen Heroes entry with dozens of banners featuring the photos of service members killed in action since 2011. Real people, real families, real sacrifice in the name of freedom.

Operation Gratitude featured high school athletes from all over North Idaho to lay aside all rivalries to come together in support of the men and women who have fought for their freedom so they can just be kids. World War II Marine Corps veteran Ray Garland who fought in and survived Pearl Harbor and Korea’s Battle of the Chosin Reservoir was their honored guest.

All in all it was a perfect slice of Americana in our town. A couple came up to me after the parade and said they’d moved here this past year from Wisconsin and this was their first Coeur d’Alene Fourth of July parade. I wish I would have gotten their names. They were in awe of what a wonderful show of American and hometown pride and declared it the best parade they’d ever seen. I absolutely agree.

Thanks to all!

• • •

As our summer temperatures head to triple digits, I’m reminding myself of how whiny I was about the gray, gloomy weather that seemed to last through most of June and the winter that was never ending. Summer is here and there are lakes, rivers and backyard pools calling my name!

Earlier this week I was grateful not to have been captured on video or in a still photographs when my giant inflatable rainbow unicorn “bucked” me off, not once but twice. I must admit that being dunked by an inanimate object is pretty dang funny.

• • •

This weekend more hometown celebration will happen in Post Falls with the community’s festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Live music and vendors at Q’emiln Park and the grand parade starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning on Seltice Way. The Lions Club lawn mower drag races following the parade at noon on Fifth Avenue near city hall.

St. Vinnie's Party in the Park on Friday at 5 p.m. featuring the Kelly Hughes Band and benefiting the homeless warming center.

GizMotion-Celebration of Creativity on Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene City Park and beach with Gizmo-CdA.

• • •

While it’s been five years since the families of Nick Newby and Nate Beyers received the worst of all news — that their sons and brothers had been killed in combat in Iraq — I’m sure to them July 7, 2011 seems like it was just moments ago. We must never forget Nick, Nate and every other soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who gave the last full measure of devotion on the battlefield in service to our country.

• • •

The newest member of the Main Street Birthday Club, born on July 3 just in time for the Fourth of July, is Matthew Lee Lickfold, Jr. Matthew’s mommy and daddy are Samantha and Matt Lickfold and he joins big sister, Alivia who turns 4 on Thursday.

This little boy has a bushel basket of grandparents right here to love on him; Mindy and Marvin Lickfold, Jeff Peugh, Teresa Eatherton and great-grandparents are Jeanne and Frank Peugh, Joel and Mary Eatherton, Barb Lickfold, Dennis Lickfold and Sharron Webb.

• • •

Happy Birthday today to Steven Hanson, John Beutler, Chris Hollibaugh, Kaila Hansen (20!) and Amy Dreps.

Taking another trip around the sun Thursday are Alivia Lickfold, Barb McCarley, Bill Brooks, Wade Jacklin, Suzanne Holland and Robin Ducote.

Marking lucky 7/7 birthdays are Becky Lee, Susie Jameson, Devon Dixon (13!), Jeff Populus, Tim Adams and Susie Sullivan.

On Saturday Taryn Thompson, Peter Finney, Bev Hammond, Dawson Brown (13!), Ron Jacaban, Beverly Knapp and Carrie Erickson celebrate.

Tucker Morrison (1!), Madison King, Jenny Seaman, Brooke Bowers, Loren Mitchell, Brooke Hell, Jenny Joyner and Renee Christensen blow out the candles on Sunday.

July 10 is the anniversary of birth for Jason Faulkner, Collin Coles, Jim Hail, Sr., Amber Blanchette, Gene Gertson, Jan Ryan, Mike Stevens, Heather Wichman, Darren Olson, Pat Fuller and Michael Garrett.

Taking another trip around the sun on Tuesday are Betty Ann Henderson, Richard Jurvelin, Jeri Lee, Bill Graves, Scott Mote and Larry Wendt.

• • •

Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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