Prairie Memories by Gary Heintz: 4th of July in Harrold
Most of the businessmen in Harrold had been in WWII, and had come home to the small town to restart their lives. Having always been a close group while growing up, their lives revolved around the community. 1959 was the year the businessmen, the grocer, barber, bar owner, drugstore owner, the lumberyard manager, and the gas station owners all gathered to organize a 4th of July celebration. Everyone had a role in pulling this off, from organizing the parade, street games, baseball game, horse races and playday, a talent contest and finally the fireworks.
The day was hot and sunny, the streets were wet from the downpour the night before. People were coming to town pulling floats, driving antique cars and tractors, and hauling horses in stock trucks and pickups. The high school band was gathering north of the railroad tracks, tuning up while spooking many of the horses. They were to follow the color guard, four riders carrying flags, two on horses that had never been off the ranch let alone in front of a brass band in a parade. The parade formed and stretched past the elevator and down a side street and out to the highway. There were many entrees from nearby towns and the streets were lined with people from as far away as Huron. I’m sure the planners hadn’t envisioned such a turnout.
Harrold’s main street is only two blocks long, so the parade turned left at the end of those two blocks and ran three blocks to the edge of town, turned back and went past the school, then back to the main street, having made an eight block loop around town. The whole route was filled with kids and adults, waving and cheering. The parade was a success. Only one person got bucked off a spooked horse.
People scattered throughout the town to watch kids bike races, a baseball game, Harrold’s version of a playday with barrel racing, pole bending and stake races. Food vendors were selling hot dogs and cotton candy, and of course fireworks. It sounded like a small war all day long. Things quieted down late in the afternoon. Everyone was getting ready for the night’s activities, a talent show at the school, fireworks out behind the school, then to top off the day, a street dance on main street. It was a perfect day, the beginning of a tradition that continued for many years, drawing people from all over the state, and becoming the time for family and class reunions.
People still talk about the Harrold 4th of July celebrations and how much fun they were. They planned their 4th around a trip to Harrold for the parade, games and street dance. I don’t think any of the original planners are still around, in fact I recognize fewer and fewer names of inhabitants in what is left of Harrold, but the memory of the celebrations is still there, remembered by those adults who were little kids standing along the parade route, hoping to catch candy thrown from horse drawn wagons as they paraded past.
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