Doug's Diggings: Rotary parade has been around a long timeThe 57th annual Rotary Halloween parade is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 31, at Newton Field. The parade is billed as the longest, continuing community event in Hudson.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
The 57th annual Rotary Halloween parade is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 31, at Newton Field. The parade is billed as the longest, continuing community event in Hudson.
Having grown up in Hudson I believe that statement to be true. That puts the first parade at 1953 and I can’t think of an event that started earlier than that — or if it did, the event didn’t continue each and every year.
Some things that might come close for longevity include the North Hudson Pepper Festival which started in 1954 — but the Pepper Fest took about a 10-year hiatus in the 1960s. Booster Days started in the late 1950s, but doesn’t go back to 1953.
The only thing that I can think of that might come close is a Miss Hudson pageant. That too, however, has undergone changes over the years and may not have continued every year — not sure. For many of the early years the event was known as the “Sno Ball.”
The first “Sno Ball” was held in 1949 (First Miss Hudson was Yvonne Stewart). The Miss Hudson event — if it has run continuously — has changed sponsors and formats several times over the years, however.
The Hudson Noon Rotary Club officially began operating locally in 1951. The Hudson Club first met on March 5, 1951, but did not receive its official Rotary charter until a meeting on Apri1 24, 1951.
A second club was born out of the original club in July 1990. The second club is what is now known as the Daybreak Rotary Club and meets Wednesday mornings each week. The original 1951 club still goes by Hudson Rotary Club and meets Thursday noon. Both clubs meet at the Hudson Golf Course.
The original club came up with an idea for the parade in 1953 and the Star-Observer hailed the event as almost life-saving! The Nov. 5, 1953, edition of paper reads: The Hudson Rotary Club in sponsoring the Halloween festivities for youth of this community eliminated the vandalism and destruction of public property, replacing it with wholesome and organized activities which were welcomed with enthusiasm from the youngsters.
Now I’m not sure what happened in 1952, but it sounded like the 1953 Rotary event all but saved the community from mass destruction! And, maybe that was the case. In the same edition there was a report of “damage and vandalism done by several groups of children in Stillwater. Property damage amounting to many hundreds of dollars was reported.”
In those early days, the Rotary Halloween activities included more than just the parade. There was a window painting contest, free movie and a dance at the high school.
As a youngster, my favorite activity was the window painting contest — it was quite an affair. All the windows in the downtown area were covered with a soapy substance that hardened. All the kids in the school were allowed to go downtown on Halloween afternoon and, in pairs, create a finger-painting masterpiece for the judges.
I figured I was never going to win a prize in the parade (which I didn’t) — my idea of a costume was a mask and going as a hobo (old pants and ratty shirt). But I always thought my partner and I had a shot at a window masterpiece (that never happened either).
As I was looking through the 1953 Star-Observer, I noticed my sister (Priscilla Stohlberg) won top prize in the window painting, winning in the “original” category — maybe that’s why I thought I could win that event.
The parade in my youth was right through downtown Hudson. Other later locations included First Street behind the old More 4/Econofoods store where parade participants would march up to the front of the store (parking lot) to hear the fate of their costume entry.
Later, the parade was held at Plaza 94 and finally moved to Newton Field. I’m not sure, but it’s been at Newton for at least 20 years. I know that because the 1991 parade was moved into the Rock gymnasium because of the Halloween blizzard. That was a great year — I think pretty much everyone who showed up won a prize!
The two Rotary clubs are again sponsoring the parade at Newton Field this year with sign-ups beginning at 4 p.m. and the parade at approximately 4:30 p.m. Cash prizes are awarded to the top five “best costumes” in five different age groups. Prizes are $25 for first, $20 for second, $15 for third, $10 for fourth and $5 for fifth. Age groups are: 3 and under, 4-5 years, 6-7 years, 8-10 years and 11 years and older. Also awarded will be a “Best of Show” prize to the single winner or group from all age categories. The “Best of Show” winner will receive a video game package valued at more the $150.
All participants will receive a goodie bag with many items. Participants are also asked to bring one non-perishable grocery item for the Hudson Christian Food Shelf. Participants should also note that some items are not allowed in the parade on the high school track, they include: skates, roller blades and skate boards.