By Jeff Rebitski, Staff Writer
The streets of Lander were lined with chairs the night before the 128th annual parade to save places for family and friends to watch the festivities that started at 10:00 A.M. in Lander on the 4th of July.
The 109 entries included everything from the Mayor of Lander, Monte Richardson to the Governor and first Lady Mark and Jennie Gordon and a plethora of other floats. The procession was more than a mile long and was staged with precision by the organizers who are committed to presenting the floats with little or no interruptions.
Many organizations who not only presented their companies, also support the 128 year old event by sponsoring prizes and awards for best decorated floats. Everything is done in good humor and with a sense of pride in their community. Each entry has a theme and many threw candy and prizes to the spectators who attended the massive event.
The horses are often the crowd favorites as applause and cheers arise from the lines of spectators who were stacked 3 or 4 deep along main street for the mile long path. Water balloons cooled the crowd as did the fire trucks at the end that sprayed water from one end of main street to the other as kids raced to gather the candy that had been thrown from the floats and trucks.
The political candidates were out in force to spread the news of their runs at public office. Each one eagerly shook hands with their potential constituents and some current community members. From mayor to governor, the candidates were there to share their vision of the future under their watch as in just a few short weeks, the primary season will be upon us and voting is essential to the successful running of the state and all its communities from east to west and north to south.
Fire rescue and fire trucks energized the community as they passed. The people celebrate the heroes of their town and with the thirty or so trucks that passed through the town, it was hard not to be impressed with the shiny exhibition of power and pride.
In about an hour, the town and its visitors had been treated to the traditions of Lander and of the region as many neighbors from the Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe brought bright colors and rhythm as they drummed and danced and shared their heritage with everyone.
The sense of community and pride in the celebration of diversity and change that is present as one walks through the laughing crowd was obvious. From churches to charities and commerce to culture, it is all represented very well at the Lander Pioneer Days Parade.
Photos by Carl Cote