By Theresa Blume
“Dress warm,” were the words my husband said as I prepared to leave for the 2015 Dairyfest Parade. Seriously, who wears a winter coat to a summer kickoff parade on May 30? People in central Wisconsin do, as I found out.
The weather was not ideal, but the parade was well worth the trouble. I competed for tossed candy to eat for warm energy as I watched the finest of central Wisconsin march along. Seeing young children riding on floats, I was taken back to another parade on a hot, sunny day over 45 years ago.
Kellner, Wis., held a big parade every Fourth of July leading up to the Little Britches Rodeo fairgrounds. My brothers were riding their horses that year, so of course I wanted a piece of the action too. They were dressed as cowboys, which made sense because our family enjoyed going to and being in rodeos, but Mom got a wild idea that her first daughter should be different than the boys. She found some heavy, felt-type material that was about the hottest and scratchiest she could find and whipped up a Native American dress.
I planned to ride my little white Welsh pony, Prince, so he got a haircut and bath the morning of the parade. Of course he had to roll around in the pasture before we left, covering himself in dirt. Prince had the personality of mischievous child too cute to say no to.
My brothers started out early that morning and rode their horses to Kellner from our place, but Dad loaded Prince up in our trailer so his short legs would not get worn out. When we arrived, Mike with his bay mare Dixie and Tony with his pinto Dolly were already in line waiting. Beside them and the many other tall horses I felt like a dwarf.
When the parade started, I was suddenly struck with terror, something like stage fright. I was too scared to look sideways at my brothers, so I stared straight ahead, ignoring the clapping people and little children running on the road in front of us to get candy. The other horses snorted and acted skittish at the sounds of sirens and horns honking, but my little Prince was cool and walked like he had been in parades all his life.
A few weeks later an envelope with a check for $5 and a large picture of me and Prince arrived, saying we won a prize. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to relax and enjoy the day instead of being so scared. Despite that hot, scratchy dress, I am now grateful for my parents going to the trouble to give me that unique experience.