Community celebrations are one of the best things about summers in the Valley. Each community hosts its own festivals that attract both new and returning guests, and excitement fills the air. It takes a lot of work to make these festivals successful, and community volunteers dedicate hours of labor and take great pride in these events – and for good reason. They are celebrations of the cultures and histories of the communities, and they bring out the best in people.
I remember when I was growing up, I’d watch for the carnival to arrive – that was my signal that the Celebration was about to begin In my home town of Manassa. Now I notice that cars are parked and chairs are set up along Main Street days in advance to reserve good spots for watching the Pioneer Days parades. The list of events includes rodeos, dances, a Demolition Derby, and a 5K run. The streets are filled in this proud town that usually boasts of a population of about 1,000 people (which I’ve always considered more than a slight exaggeration.)
But the best things about the Celebration are the reunions. Class and family reunions are scheduled to coincide with the Celebration because that is when people are most likely to attend.
Like most of the residents of Manassa, my parents’ lives will change dramatically for a few days. They live on Main Street, which pretty much assures them of being able to see old friends looking for a place to watch the parade. During the week leading up to the festivities, campers and tents will begin to appear in their yard as their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren begin to arrive.
I remember one year Dad stood in the yard and watched as dozens of his grandkids raced around the yard. He looked at Mom and said, “See what you started!”
The Celebrations also bring back pleasant memories, like the time I got to shake hands with Jack Dempsey. That year, he visited for the dedication of the park and museum named in his honor. Each of his fingers was bigger than my hand, and I remember being amazed that someone famous like him could come from my home town. I also remember the way he smiled, and I enjoyed hearing the great boxer tell stories of his famous fights.
But the best memories come from the time we spend with our family and friends.
We will get to hear family stories told by my parents, my uncles and my aunts about their parents and grandparents – and a few stories about Mom and Dad themselves.