COEUR d’ALENE — Coeur d’Alene High School’s first homecoming queen has returned to grace her queendom once again.
Grand Marshal Nancy Runge waved to those who stood in sunny spots on curbs and sidewalks Thursday afternoon as she and her husband, John, rolled west on Sherman Avenue. The music of the marching band played loud and clear as the CHS Homecoming Parade filled the streets with blue and white Viking pride.
“I’m proud of representing Coeur d’Alene High School,” Nancy said. “I graduated in 1958, and I’m very proud of being a Viking. And my grandson plays football, he’s a senior."
Although CHS was founded in 1903, the tradition of homecoming royalty did not start until Nancy's senior year. This was a time when Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Ricky Nelson rocked the airwaves. Coeur d’Alene was just a tiny town where everybody knew everybody.
The stars aligned the night Nancy was crowned homecoming queen. That was the night she fell in love with her king.
“He saw me get crowned, and he asked me to dance,” she said with a giggle. “That was the beginning of our romance."
She and John knew each other in school, but he was a couple of years older.
"He had come home from the Army, and he went to the homecoming dance — there was a dance afterward in those days — and he asked if he could take me out the next night,” she said. "From then on, we’ve been married 60 years."
Nancy and John smiled as they waved at the small crowds that braved the cold. Their son Jeff was among the spectators.
"I think it's nice they're honoring her," Jeff said. "Back then it was a really big deal."
CHS 1990 grad Christina Hatfield, who drove one of the senior royalty cars in the parade, said it was an honor that Nancy would participate in this year's parade.
“It really says something about the legacy of Coeur d’Alene High School alumni," Hatfield said. "There’s a bunch of us here in the area, we raise our kids here and it’s neat to see people here for homecoming. You know that saying, ‘Once a Viking, always a Viking?’ It’s very prevalent in this community."
CHS Student Council adviser and homecoming director Jaime Bright was thrilled to have the first homecoming queen lead this year's parade.
"It was so fun to be able to include Mrs. Runge in this year's homecoming festivities," she said. "She is a beautiful part of Coeur d'Alene High School history and we were honored to have her as our parade Grand Marshal."