On Monday, May 25, 2009, the streets of downtown Bonners Ferry were lined with colorful flags and hundreds of community members who had come, not just for the fun of a hometown parade, but to honor the many American veterans, each one a hero. With the theme of “Patriotism” as a guide, many groups in Boundary County reflected American pride by joining in the fun and showcasing the many distinctive groups that make Boundary County such a great place to live. The clear spring weather was the perfect backdrop for what was called “the only parade in North Idaho on Memorial Day.”
First in line, and paving the way for the groups that followed, was a color guard, which included two World War II veterans who carried the Stars and Stripes. This was an especially poignant way to begin the parade as each of these men is well-known in the community.
Next came the Harley riders, POW/MIA and American flags flying, individually attired to reflect their own personal tribute to patriotism. An Idaho State Police vehicle preceded a car filled with Boundary County’s Oldest Veterans who waved to the enthusiastic crowd. A vehicle from the Disabled American Veterans followed, and then Boy Scout Troops 114 and 188 walked the parade route in full uniforms, carrying pictures of heroes lost in active duty.
“It was very amazing,” said 12-year old Sean Varelman, a member of Boy Scout Troop 188. “Everybody was cheering us on. I felt like I did something really good.”
Bonners Ferry High School Marching Band gave the parade the necessary touch of heart-thumping music that only a marching band can.
Jaylee Ludolph, a member of the marching band, said, “It’s been kind of hot but it’s been fun. It feels good that you can support the nation in a small town like Bonners Ferry.”
Next America’s Junior Miss royalty, stylishly attired atop a maroon Mustang, rolled by waving to the crowd.
Representing the agricultural community, a procession of antique tractors roared through the streets followed by several National Guard vehicles whose tires are bigger than some of our cars. AARP was well represented as was the Community Restorium whose riders were all colorfully arrayed in patriotic “head gear.” Flat beds filled with the Cardinals, Cubs and White Sox baseball teams came next, followed by the Busy Beevers 4H Club.
The strong cadence of Scottish drums accompanied by traditional bag pipers followed as the Albeni Falls Pipes and Drums group, dressed in traditional plaid kilts, vests and tam-o’-shanters filled the streets with the distinctive music from the British Isles. Scottish dancers, dressed in black with tartan scarves pinned to their shoulders, walked and danced along the route to the toe tapping bagpipe music.
The Roadrunner 4H Club came next, the Trailblazers 4H group, which preceded an extensive variety of antique and retro automobiles as the long line of proud car owners showed off their shiny vehicles.
“I’m glad we had a wonderful day. This is America’s future,” said Ruth Ann Wilson.
Both Paradise Valley Fire Department and North Bench Fire Department were on hand to let the public have a close-up encounter with the firefighting equipment. The Senior Center bus came next, followed by Boundary Search and Dive Rescue, dressed in fluorescent orange shirts, who brought not only their wave runners, snow mobiles, and quads, but also their search dog. South Boundary Fire and Bonners Ferry Fire Department rolled by next.
Then came the dedicated fez-wearing Shriners from the area who pulled a replica model of a Shriner’s Hospital as well as showed off a stylish horse and buggy.
On his four-wheeler with his costumed canine companions, Shriner Dick Hollenbeck said, “I am proud to represent the Shriners to let the public know that we are here to help the young people.”
The Commissioners Office toted a portable outhouse along the parade route followed by horse drawn carriages and riders representing Boundary County equine lovers including National FFA on horseback, Kootenai River Rodeo riders and rodeo royalty as well as the mounted color guard of the US Border Patrol on their trusty steeds.
“Make sure you get to the rodeo,” said Ken Robertson. “It’s wild!”
The faithful pooper-scoopers good-naturedly cleaned up after the horses, were none other than our local Mayor, Dave Anderson and City Council President, Dave Gray.
David Koon, who was helping with the parade traffic flow and crowd control, explained, “It’s been great. We’ve had a lot of people, it’s bigger than I expected. I’d like to thank all the veterans who were in the service for us.”
“It was a wonderful parade,” said Sharon Smith. “The people who volunteer their time and lives in Boundary County are amazing. We have to be thankful for the community we live in.”