Hundreds of Mountain Area residents lined School Road and Crane Valley Road (426) Sept. 16, for the Heritage Day Parade, complete with siren-blaring fire engines, Smokey Bear, floats, Yosemite High Country, the Yosemite High marching band, vintage cars, and the Madera County Sheriff’s Department off-road motorcycle unit.
The parade was the highlight of the 21st Annual Heritage Day, an event held to benefit the Sierra Historic Sites Association (SHSA), and Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park on School Road. This year’s theme was “Saving for the Past for the Future.”
Parade Coordinator Brenda Negley said this year’s parade had 50 entries, including the Yosemite High Cadet Corps, Tehran Shrine Clowns, dancers, gymnasts, and about 10 ‘cool’ cars from the Mountain Road Rattlers.
Children yelled with delight and collected candy as the parade entries, including superheroes Wonder Woman and Spiderman, clowns, fire trucks, the Yosemite High football team and cheerleaders, and Smokey Bear along the 1.5-mile parade route.
Caring Veterans of America handed small American flags to the outstretched arms of children along the parade route.
“The parade this year had a great turnout,” Negley said. “We had great weather, and the participants and crowd alike all had a fabulous time cheering and waving.”
“This is Fresno Flats Historical Park and Museum’s annual fundraiser that we’ve held for 21 years to help support and maintain the parks history so that we may share it with other generations to come.,” said Tony King, event chairman.
During and after the parade, some community members were thrown into the Fresno Flats Jail, making a donation to the Sierra Historic Sites Association to bail out.
Fresno Flats Sheriff for the day Bryan King, said he was forced to place Lily Brown, 13, in jail. The charge? “Having too much fun,” said the sheriff.
Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park
Following the parade, many people visited the Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park to visit vendor booths, and enjoy a variety of activities and demonstrations including gold panning, blacksmithing, quilt making, pine needle basket weaving, wood carving, and old time printing.
Docent-led tours took people back in time as they pointed out the historical significance of the Laramore-Lyman House, the Taylor Log House, the Cunningham School, and the Nathan Sweet Memorial Museum.
Outside the Taylor Log Home, Bryce Thiessen, 9, and his sister Virginia, 7, both Mountain Home School students, spent the day demonstrating how laundry was done in the ‘old days,’ with a tub of water, a washboard, a ringer, and a clothesline, while their big sister Rebekah, 12, was inside the historic home demonstrating the art of spinning wool. The siblings are the children of Steve and Lori Thiessen.
“In our homeschool we enjoy history and science, so when Laura, the caretaker at the park, gave us a tour one day, Rebekah decided she also wanted to share the area’s history with others,” Lori said. “She became a docent for the park and soon after participated in Heritage Days.”
It wasn’t long before Lori joined the SHSA board, and helping at Fresno Flats quickly become a family pastime.
“While Rebekah helps give school tours, Bryce and Virginia help students learn how to make candles and rope,” Lori explained. “For Heritage Days the children helped make all of the children’s toys, cutting out the wooden pieces on their scroll saw, sanding, finishing, and finally helping kids learn the games.
“It was my idea to bring out the washboard and ringer from the Taylor log cabin. Several people told me they remember watching their mother or grandmother do laundry with a ringer.”
Rebekah picked some cotton at the Civil War reenactment at Kearney Park last year, and wondered how to process it. She learned how to clean, card, and spin fibers from on-line videos and by talking to a few weavers. She now prefers spinning wool, as she likes its texture and ease.
Rebekah says “I like interacting with people who want to learn,” and Bryce says when he dresses up and does things the kids did in that time, with no electronics, “I feel like I’m living in that time.”
“I love giving my own children the experience of learning how to articulate their knowledge, interact with people, and act out history,” Lori said.
Sierra Historic Sites Association President Don Ashton said the SHSA membership was thrilled with how well everything went and the good crowds that came out for the one-day event.
“Two of our board members deserve a lot of credit - Brenda (Negley) did a great job with the parade and Tony (King) stepped up to chair the whole event,” Ashton said.
“I feel like we turned the corner this year with a great parade, three bands during the day, children’s games, good vendors, and a great silent auction thanks to the generous contributions of the community and businesses who provided about 80 items for the auction,” Ashton said. “We also had a lot of help from Rotary and the Yosemite High Leos Club.”
Longtime Mountain Area resident and supporter of the arts, Jackie Byers, served as Grand Marshal for this year’s celebration, and Deborah Carter was named the SHSA volunteer of the year.
Jarrod Mills also worked before the event to repair the historic Taylor Log Cabin. Click here for that story.
Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park was built around two restored and furnished homes dating back to the 1870s (Laramore-Lyman House and Taylor Log House). These homes were saved from demolition, relocated to the historical park, and restored by SHSA volunteers.
Other restored buildings include two one-room schools and two 19th century jails.
Fresno Flats captures the flavor of life in the 19th century when settlers came to the foothills and mountains in Eastern Madera County to build their lives, raise families, and make their livings as farmers, miners, loggers, and merchants.
With no county or state funds, SHSA has maintained Fresno Flats since 1975 with community donations and volunteer labor.
With several of the buildings in need of repairs, SHSA is looking for sponsors to “adopt” them. Annual SHSA memberships are also available: $25 individuals, $35 families, $50 businesses, $100 (minimum) for patron memberships, $500 for life membership, and $1,000 for sustaining membership. Because SHSA is a nonprofit, educational association, membership dues and other donations are tax deductible.
Fresno Flats grounds are open dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Museum and guided tours are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Details: (559) 683-6570, fresnoflatsmuseumorg.
21st Mountain Heritage Day Parade Trophy Winners
Band: Yosemite High School Band
Color Guard: Yosemite High Cadet Corps
Marching: 1st place - Cub Scouts 134, 2nd place - Girl Scouts 3041
Marching (school): 1st place - YHS Band, 2nd Place - YHS Cheer, 3rd Place - Cadet Corps
Marching (youth): 1st place - Coarsegold 4-H
Marching (open): 1st place - Gymnastics by Diane, 2nd place - Oakhurst Karate, 3rd place -Dancers Inc.
Floats (commercial): H&L Lumber/True Value Homecenter
Floats (non-commercial): YHS Football
Floats (charitable): 1st place - “Love Boat” (Local Lions Club, YHS LEOs, New Community United Methodist Church, Vision Academy), 2nd place - Caring Veterans, 3rd place - Big Brothers Big Sisters with H&L Lumber/True Value Homecenter
Historical themed: 1st place - Fresno Flats Sheriff, 2nd place - Kat Biacindo/Cherokee Dancer
Miscellaneous (clowns) Tehran Shrine Clowns
Miscellaneous (other) 1st place - Met Cinema Heroes, 2nd place - Reimer’s Candy, 3rd place - Mountain Bear Fan Club
YHS Spirit Award: 1st place - YHS Cheerleaders, 2nd place - YHS Football, 3rd place - Cadet Corps
Equestrian (mounted): Backcountry Horsemen of America: The Sierra Freepackers
Equestrian (pooper scooper): Patricia Valentyne
Auto (antique): 1st place - Dick Peters, 2nd place - Phil Meadows, 3rd place - Mike Kloss
Auto (classic): 1st place - Roger Youders, 2nd place - Robin and Diane Underwood, 3rd place - Bud Cox
Auto (other): 1st place - Mike and Joyce Decker, 2nd place - Madera County Sheriff Foundation, 3rd place - Tom Williams
Auto (political): 1st place - Tom Wheeler, 2nd place - Sheriff Jay Varney, 3rd place - Marc Sobel
Auto (towing) 2nd place - EMADCO