Celebrating Heritage

Community CorrespondentSeptember 24, 2013 

Eager to find optimum viewing locations for the 17th Annual Sierra Historic Sites Association's Mountain Heritage Days parade Sept. 21, dozens of spectators lined School Road (427) last Saturday morning. By the time the parade commenced precisely at 10 a.m., the crowd had swelled into the hundreds.

The festivities had officially begun the previous night at Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park with the opening of bids for the silent auction held to raise funds for the historic sight, an ice cream social, a mini-melodrama, the introduction of the Mountain Belles, and displays by vendors and those demonstrating traditional crafts.

The parade was clearly the most popular event of the day. The announcer at the judges' stand located in front of the Fresno Flats complex was Bill Atwood, whose humor helped enliven his introductions of the 41 parade entries.

The procession included school bands from the Mountain Area junior high schools, Yosemite, Minarets, and Mariposa County high schools. The Yosemite High School Band and Percussion took the "Best of Show" award.

A plaque was also presented to Sears Hometown Store of Oakhurst, the town's only entry in the Commercial Division.

Grand Marshals for the parade were Matt Sconce and Keith Walker, who are considered town heroes for saving Oakhurst's Met Cinema from permanent closure. Also in the parade were several local officials, including Sheriff John Anderson and District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, and county District Attorney Michael Kietz.

Sandy Brinley, parade chairperson, was quite pleased with the number of spectators.

"It was the biggest turnout we've had in years, Brinley said. "The parade had something for everyone."

Nadine Bishel, who was situated at the intersection of School Road and Crane Valley Road (426) and served as the procession's second announcer, concurred — "A nice crowd, everyone had fun."

"The parade was really fun ... I liked seeing everyone's reaction, especially the children," said Cecelia Garcia, one of the three Mountain Belles who took part in the parade.

After the parade, many of the spectators gathered at Fresno Flats to visit the museum's buildings or see pioneer demonstrations including gold panning, blacksmithing, quilt making, basket weaving, loom weaving, and tatting. Members of the Central Sierra Woodcarvers Society also exhibited carving and wood turning techniques, and provided hands-on woodworking activities for children.

Food booths satisfied visitors' appetites, and further goodies were won at the cake walks held each half-hour from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. by the Yosemite High School volleyball team. The vendors' wares included locally-produced goods ranging from jewelry and soaps to clothing and food items such as jams, jellies, tamales, chutney, and relishes.

Indeed, aside from raising the funds necessary to maintain and improve Fresno Flats, one of the main goals of the day was to increase youngsters' awareness of their heritage and what Fresno Flats has to offer them. Dwayne Turpin, the new president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association, was ecstatic about the presence of so many children.

Summarizing his intentions as SHSA president, Turpin added, "I want to get kids knowing about where they come from."

Charlie Bednar, Heritage Days chairman for SHSA, was particularly thrilled by the overall turn-out.

"This was an enthusiastic crowd. I could see people renewing old acquaintances."

One goal of Heritage Days was to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant, a decree signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

"All next year, our activities at Fresno Flats will celebrate the Yosemite Grant," Turpin said.

Late in the afternoon, the days' festivities began to draw to a close with a wine and cheese reception during which music was provided by Mountain Area singer/songwriter Jean Butterfield. When forced indoors by afternoon thundershowers, those present enjoyed the final event of the day, a dinner of salmon or barbecued pork ribs.

Making their way home after the day's proceedings, everyone's spirits were as bright as the neon sunset spectacularly gracing the sky above Oakhurst.

Parade Award Winners

Best of ShowCategoryDivision
Yosemite High School Band & PercussionBandSenior Walking

1st Place WinnersCategoryDivision
Sierra Telephone – Grand MarshallsAutomobilesAntique Car
Mountain Belle LimoAutomobilesClassic Cars
Mountain Road RattlersAutomobilesClubs
Madera County SheriffAutomobilesOther
Noll for SheriffAutomobilesPolitical
Mt. Area Junior High BandBandJunior riding
Minarets High School Marching Mustang BandBandSenior Walking
YHS California Cadet Corps–Color Guard Color GuardOpen
Yosemite National ParkEquestrianMounted Groups
Diamond W Mini HorsesEquestrianOther
Zombie Walk 2013FloatCharitable Org
Sears Hometown Store of OakhurstFloatCommercial
Caring Veterans of America FloatNon-Commercial
Fresno Flats - Yellow WagonHistorical Themed Yellow Wagon
Mariposa Martial Arts AcademyMarching UnitOpen
YHS California Cadet CorpsMarching UnitSchool
Boy Scout Troop 341/Pack 341Miscellaneous Other
Dazzling DiamondsMarching UnitJunior Walking
Tehran Shrine ClownsMiscellaneous EntryClowns

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