Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Faribault: Lighting up the holidays with a Winterfest parade December 16, 2018

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Two weeks prior, city of Faribault snowplows were clearing eight inches of snow on the original date of the Parade of Lights. The rescheduled (due to the snowstorm) parade included the festive city snowplow.

 

WITH LIGHTS ALL AGLOW, from ground to sky, Faribault showcased its holiday spirit Friday evening during a festive Parade of Lights.

 

Across from Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a crowd gathers outside Bernie’s Grill.

 

Warm temps hovering near 30 degrees brought out all ages to the second annual Winterfest. I was there, on the corner by third-generation family-owned Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, taking it all in.

 

Looking north on Central Avenue to the crowd waiting for the 5:30 p.m. fireworks and then the parade.

 

I sensed the anticipation as the crowd swelled, waiting for the fireworks followed by the parade.

 

 

Except for an inability to see only the highest fireworks over the tall buildings along Central Avenue, everything else went seemingly well.

 

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer tops a Faribault police vehicle.

 

 

A Faribault fire truck.

 

The back of the fire truck is a colorful blur of lights as it moves down Central Avenue.

 

Another entry from the city of Faribault.

 

The murmur of conversation, the rock of familiar holiday tunes like Jingle Bells, the bobbing of Santa hats, the flash of holiday lights…all created a real sense of holiday joy. I felt it. I heard it. I saw it.

 

One of my favorite units: sheep and a “wool blanket” on a “bed” representing the iconic Faribault Woolen Mill.

 

There’s something about an event like this that makes us all pause and celebrate, as a community, the spirit of Christmas. Faribault needed this. I needed this.

 

No holiday parade is complete without Santa and Mrs. Claus, here on the Elks Lodge float.

 

Keeping everyone safe…

 

Loved the gingerbread house.

 

To Faribault Main Street and to all who participated in the parade—from the Boy Scouts to the firefighters to local businesses and many more—thank you. You gave us all a gift on Friday evening. You brought holiday joy to Central Avenue, to our Minnesota community.

 

After the parade, the crowd disperses.

 

Parade-goers absolutely embraced these 45 minutes of Winterfest, this opportunity to unite and celebrate the holiday season in Faribault.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Memorial Day in Faribault, a photo essay May 28, 2018

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A veteran salutes during the Memorial Day Program at Faribault’s Central Park.

 

MEMORIAL DAY IN FARIBAULT, like in so many other American towns, honors veterans through patriotic tradition.

 

Steve Bonde plays patriotic tunes on a downtown Faribault street corner before the start of the Memorial Day parade.

 

Parade goers listen to Bonde as they await the start of the parade.

 

A barber cuts hair in his barbershop across the street, parade-goers reflected in his shop window.

 

A parade follows Central Avenue through our historic downtown, ending in nearby Central Park.

 

 

 

Grand Marshall Vicki McDowell with her husband, Honorary Grand Marshall Myles McDowell.

 

Each year I expect the same—the police cars and fire trucks, the Color Guard and honored veterans,

 

 

 

 

 

the bands and Scouts,

 

 

 

the kids and candy and politicians,

 

 

 

 

 

the vintage cars and the horses.

 

 

 

 

A restored vintage Tilt-A-Whirl provides a parade viewing spot in the heart of downtown. The Tilt-A-Whirl was invented in Faribault and, up until several years ago, was still made here.

 

Only the faces change, and sometimes not even those.

 

A volunteer hands out programs at Central Park.

 

Printed on the back of the program and read by master of ceremonies Gordy Kosfeld.

 

After the parade, folks gather at Central Park for the Memorial Day program, this year the 149th.

 

A table setting at American Legion Post 43 honors the POW-MIAs.

 

Afterwards, some—mostly vets and their families—go to the Legion for a luncheon and additional remembrances.

 

The luncheon serving line set against a backdrop of photos of local Legion Post 43 commanders.

 

There’s a certain comfort in embracing this day with time-honored traditions. Traditions remind me year after year after year that we still live in a free nation. Each Memorial Day I can set my lawn chair curbside along Central Avenue. I can take photos without retribution. I can stand for my flag and applaud and smile. On this day, I am grateful.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Faribault: Costumed kids on parade on Central October 11, 2016

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OLAF, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, Raggedy Ann, Laura Ingalls Wilder, police officers, firefighters and more—all paraded down Faribault’s Central Avenue at noon Saturday for the Fall Festival Costume Parade.

 

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It’s an annual event that not only celebrates the season, but also gives kids a chance to dress up, pretend and, well, act like kids.

 

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I watched as parents dressed kids street-side,

 

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as families walked toward the beginning of the parade route

 

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and then later followed the route.

 

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I delighted in the uninhibited enthusiasm,

 

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in the clasped hands,

 

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in the hesitant waves,

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and in the exuberant smiles.

 

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I appreciated the dog striped as a skunk,

 

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the colorful and playful witch kicking her legs

 

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and even the preschool princess trailing, unable to pedal her trike fast enough.

 

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For awhile, those of us gathered in downtown Faribault focused on the scene before us. Joyful. Happy. Fun. A time of togetherness that is the stuff of October memories in Minnesota.

BONUS PHOTOS:

 

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TELL ME: What’s your favorite Halloween costume memory?

 

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© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Faribault’s Memorial Day parade, a photo essay May 30, 2016

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Parade, 11 Color Guard

 

IT’S A TIME-HONORED tradition in Faribault—the 10 a.m. Memorial Day parade.

 

Parade, 6 big dogs

 

First, parade watchers come bearing lawn chairs and blankets to claim curbside spots along Central Avenue.

 

Parade, 12 flag bearer

 

To the south, down by the library/community center, parade participants are lining up, law enforcement vehicles at the head followed by the Color Guard and then the honored veterans. Marching bands slot in next.

 

Parade, 34 little boy with flag

 

It’s all so predictable. Every year. The same line-up, although occasionally the faces of politicians change.

 

Parade, 28 Scout carrying flag

 

Parade, 32 Scout handing out flags

 

Parade, 29 Scout close-up

 

Parade, 38 Girl Scouts

 

Parade, 39 Girl Scouts with flags close-up

 

But I love it. The Scouts, girls and boys, handing out flags.

 

Parade, 45 old blue pick-up truck

 

Kids scrambling for tossed Tootsie Rolls. Kids dressed in patriotic attire. Kids here with grandparents, making this a multi-generational tradition.

 

Parade, 41 old green car

 

Old cars and trucks.

 

Parade, 51 horses

 

And finally, at the end, the horses.

 

Parade, 56 patriotic horses

 

In 15 minutes, the parade is complete. Short. Sweet. Americana lovely in the sort of way that makes me appreciate Faribault, this place I call home in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

FYI: Check back for more photos from Memorial Day in Faribault and at the Cannon City Cemetery.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A photo essay: Celebrating Memorial Day in Faribault May 25, 2015

The Color Guard always leads the parade.

The parade begins with the Rice County Central Veterans Association Honor Guard/Color Guard leading the way.

FOR THE THIRTY-THREE YEARS I’ve lived in Faribault, I’ve rarely missed a Memorial Day parade and the program that follows in Central Park.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

Little Ivan arrives for the parade in a car pushed by his dad, Jake.

It’s a time-honored tradition of music and marches, salutes and speeches, flags and families.

Saluting the flag.

Saluting the flag at the ceremony in Central Park.

I’m proud to live in a community where patriotism and service to country and respect for the American flag and all it means runs strong from generation to generation.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

From kids to adults, many are dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue.

Honorary Grand Marshall, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshalls.

Grand Marshal, Adrian Gillen, rides in the parade alongside his wife, Jean. The couple both served their country and were duo grand marshals.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter's classmate, was the honorary grand marshall.

David Kirkpatrick, who is my eldest daughter’s classmate, was the honorary grand marshal.

The Shattuck-St. Mary's Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Crack Squad always marches in the parade and always fires their guns.

Cub

The Scouts always hand out American flags during the parade.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

The parade includes vintage vehicles.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

You know the parade is ending when horses and riders arrive.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

At Central Park, the Bethlehem Academy Band awaits their turn to play the National Anthem.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Some attendees clutch American flags.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Honored veterans Adrian Gillen, left, and brothers Matt and David Kirkpatrick.

Veterans Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others.

Veteran Travis Quinlan watches the program at the park with hundreds of others. He was also a classmate of my eldest daughter.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Hundreds gathered in Central Park for the program, presented on the bandshell. The Girl Scouts participated with a presentation on flag folding and more.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War.

Archie Temple walked in the parade and then arrived at the park for the Memorial Day program. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956, during the time of the Korean War. That’s his original Navy uniform.

Honored combat veteran David Kirkpatrick address the crowd as grand marshalls Jean and Adrian Gillen watch.

Honored combat veteran Matt Kirkpatrick addresses the crowd. Grand marshals Jean and Adrian Gillen are seated next to the podium.

David Kirkpatrick gives a few brief remarks.

David Kirkpatrick speaks briefly.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

As is tradition each year, members of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 43 place wreaths on the memorial cross.

The Color Guard is an important part of the day's events.

The Honor Guard/Color Guard is an important part of the day’s events.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

As they left the park, veterans Travis Quinlan, left, and David and Matt Kirkpatrick posed for one last photo. Travis and David were Faribault High School classmates.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Honoring our veterans at a Memorial Day parade in Faribault May 27, 2013

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The annual Memorial Day parade, which I've attended for decades, begins along Central Avenue in Faribault.

The annual Memorial Day parade, which I’ve attended for decades, begins along Central Avenue in Faribault.

UNDER OVERCAST SKIES sometimes spitting drizzle, and in 54-degree temps, folks gathered along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault this morning to honor veterans.

Perched under an umbrella held by my husband, Randy, I photographed the annual Memorial Day parade from my curbside lawn chair, wiping the occasional drops of rain from my camera lens.

The Color Guard leads the parade.

The Color Guard leads the parade.

Kids scramble for candy.

Kids scramble for candy.

Veterans riding in the parade.

Veterans ride in the parade.

As I focused on the marching veterans and musicians, the kids scrambling for candy, the American flags and more, I considered that my uncomfortableness in the morning chill was nothing, nothing at all, compared to what many of these vets endured.

I thought of my dad, dead 10 years now, and his stories of the bone-chilling cold he felt while fighting on the front lines during the Korean Conflict.

Girl Scouts walk in the rain at the end of the parade.

Girl Scouts walk in the rain at the end of the parade.

And then, after the parade, when I skipped the Memorial Day Program at Faribault’s Central Park because the drizzle had turned to steady rain, I questioned that decision. Why couldn’t I sit for 30 minutes in the cold and rain and listen to these veterans?

When Randy (who had gone to the park) texted that I could hear the program on the local radio station, I tuned in to KDHL and listened to honored combat veteran Jerry Anderson, who served in Vietnam. Anderson didn’t speak of his Vietnam experiences. Rather he reminisced about coming home from Vietnam to unappreciative and protesting Americans and the shame he and other vets felt.

But years later, in 1986, he helped to organize a group of nearly 50 Vietnam veterans to march in Faribault’s Heritage Days parade. He recalled the “thank yous,” the clapping, the signs, the tears…

That parade, he said, “helped end the years of shame and bitterness once and for all.”

Honorary Grand Marshal Bob Sommers and his wife, Raquel.

Faribault native and Honorary Grand Marshal Bob Sommers and his wife, Raquel.

Then, just as my friend, Bob Sommers, honorary grand marshal who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was about to speak, the radio station’s line to the Memorial Day Program cut out.

A vet on a motorized scooter tossed candy to the kids.

A vet on a motorized scooter tosses candy to the kids.

So I returned to my computer, to selecting and editing photos and writing these words, asking you, today, to please remember those who have served, and to thank them.

BONUS PARADE PHOTOS:

Bands from Bethlehem Academy, shown here, and Faribault High School performed.

Bands from Bethlehem Academy, shown here, and Faribault High School performed.

This vintage car exited the parade route after about two blocks. My husband automotive machinist diagnosed a blown head gasket.

This vintage car exited the parade route after about two blocks. My husband automotive machinist diagnosed a blown head gasket.

Horses on parade through our historic downtown.

Horses on parade through our historic downtown.

The Boy Scouts always follow to scoop up the horse poop.

The Cub Scouts always follow to scoop up the horse poop.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Warning: I am about to ride in a parade September 6, 2012

MY HUSBAND WOULD HAVE jumped on the invitation without hesitation.

But I held back, reluctant to accept Harold Martin’s offer to ride in the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines Show parade. You see, I’ve never ridden in a parade and I feel more comfortable on the audience side where I can blend into the crowd, hidden behind my camera.

So, initially, Randy and I declined and told Harold we’d catch up with him if we changed our minds.

Harold Martin of rural Northfield with his 1948 Dodge truck outfitted with a 1960 Civil Defense siren.

“I don’t want to do it,” I reiterated after Harold and his friend, Gabe, drove off in Harold’s 1948 Dodge truck with a 1960 Civil Defense siren mounted on the back and a rescued-from-the-side-of-the-road sofa planted behind the cab.

That would be our parade spot, on that cream-colored, canopied couch.

I just couldn’t picture myself up there, acting like I was the queen of something or other.

But then Randy said, “Let’s do it.”

And just like that I caved to peer pressure and we headed down the dusty gravel road behind and between tractors, pulled the swimming pool ladder from the back of Harold’s truck, scampered up (well, not quite scampered) and began our tour along the parade route.

My sofa seat view of the parade route as the Civil Defense siren swings my way. I covered my left ear (I’m deaf in my right) every time the siren passed by my face. These warning sirens were used from 1952-1970, Harold tells me.

And you know what. Except for the rotating and screaming air raid siren swinging uncomfortably close to us on the couch, the whole experience was simply a hoot. I shot photos and watched the faces of audience members who mostly smiled, finding the humor in Harold’s quirky, movable warning system.

About that Harold. He calls himself an opportunist, not only scooping up the freebie couch, but also saving the outdated and scrapped 1960 Civil Defense siren. His nephew was about to toss it.

“Somebody should keep one of these,” he remembers thinking before doing just that, then repairing the siren and mounting it on the back of his vintage Dodge. He showed me a photo from 1952 of a siren, like his, attached to a truck. The portable warning system was used in Seattle and had a range of eight miles.

Harold’s siren, obviously, doesn’t have that range or volume.

The U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center replica is housed in the box, right. And there’s the pool ladder Randy and I used to climb onto the back of the truck.

He does have, though, a missile warning system in place. Or, more accurately, he has a U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center, purchased on e-Bay for $50, attached to the rear of the flatbed. The 1963 Marx toy set shows a guarded scene of U.S. missiles ready to launch against the Soviet Union.

Remember the Cold War school drills of hiding under your desk and covering your head with your hands? Pretty silly, huh?

But then so is settling onto a recycled couch and riding on a make-shift Civil Defense truck in a rural Minnesota parade. Who cares, though? Apparently not me.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling