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That summer was the year of gas shortages and people were requested not to travel on the Fourth of July. The idea was to have a parade and Fourth of July celebration right in Mikana. Local businesses were consulted and the enthusiasm spread. Jeanne Wolff came up with the name of the parade, saying, "If we are going to have a parade, let's have the biggest little parade in the world." She worked very hard on publicity, (even trying to get into the Guinness Book Of World Records).
In the next few years, Elsie Bartels invested her own money to have parade buttons made, and the rest of the group agonized over whether they could sell enough buttons to return her investment. They did. Now the buttons are a guaranteed seller. Many people have button collections that go all the way back to the beginning of the parade. There is now a collection of all the parade buttons displayed in the Cedar Lake Town Hall, created and donated by Howard and Emily Helfert.
Some of the highlights of the parade have been: Jeanne Wolff dressed as the Statue of Liberty, the Lombardo family as swamp monsters, and Bob Quillen's outhouse. Joyce Jarzyna was our Drum Majorette for many years of the parade, leading "Joyce's Jewels" a group of local ladies singing patriotic songs. Our youngest participant was Tom Plahn, pulled in a wagon dressed as a clown, and our oldest is George Dana of Sarona, who came for many years impressively dressed as Uncle Sam: looking as if he just stepped off a recruiting poster! We have also had Minutemen, a Chinese Dragon from Long Lake, and Cathy Hatfield as Lady Godiva. Yes, she was clothed!
Each year we honor a special person(s) as the Fourth of July Parade Marshall(s), recognizing their contributions to the community.
WE USED TO HAVE A QUEEN, LITTLE MISS, AND THEIR ATTENDANTS
Our Mikana Queen, Little Miss Mikana, and their attendants were another important part of the parade. We were very proud of our democratic way of choosing these young ladies: the names of the girls living in Cedar Lake Township were placed in a hat and drawn. The Queen and attendant had to be age 13 to 16, and the Little Miss and her attendant had to be age 5 to 9, by the Fourth of July. The first name picked in each category was asked to become Queen or Little Miss. The next name drawn was asked to be an attendant.
The Mikana Queen, Little Miss Mikana, and their attendants were installed in a ceremony on the Saturday preceding the parade. To add some time to the program and insert local humor, a musical was created each year featuring Cedar Lakes most talented voices. Sara Wojciehowski created, wrote and directed the coronation play for past fifteen years.
After the Coronation Lisa Howard and helpers would provide punch and homemade treats for all those attending.
UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO MODERN RESTRICTIONS, AND SO MANY MORE DEMANDS ON YOUNG PEOPLES TIME, THE PRACTICE OF THE QUEEN, LITTLE MISS, AND THE CORONATION PLAY ENDED IN 2011.
As the parade grew and the committee started to actually make money, it was decided that the money not needed for the support of the parade should be used to benefit the Town of Cedar Lake. Some of the things done with the money include wiring the Town Hall for a sound system, street banners with a goose logo proclaiming "Mikana: Headwaters of Red Cedar River", and a historical marker in the park near the dam, explaining the history of Mikana. Christmas street decorations were purchased in conjunction with Barb's General Store and monies were also used to refurbish the Mikana float, which was re-done a few years ago in a very patriotic theme: red, white, and blue, with American flags.
We have purchased tactical defense equipment (official wording for flack jacket) for our Police Officer (approximately $1,500), donated $500 to the Birchwood Community Education Project for their library program, bought new sound equipment for the day of the parade, and "Welcome to Mikana" signs which are erected at either end of town.
The Parade Committee also spent its monies on a new furnace and air conditioning for the Town Hall, paid for half the cost of new vertical blinds for the Cedar Lake Town Hall, and donates $1,000.00 every year to the fireworks. Money was also spent to re-decorate the "Home Town Spirit" float. In 2009, we purchased a $5,000 Stryker cot for the Birchwood Ambulance EMT's
Dave and Sharon moved to Cedar Lake full time in 1990 when Dave was promoted to Supervisor of Probation and Parole Agents for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Sharon began working full time in Special Education at the Birchwood Public School. Previously they lived in Eau Claire where Sharon worked at UW Eau Claire and Dave worked as a Wisconsin State Probation and Parole Agent. After they retired both stayed active with Sharon working on the backpack program for low income students at the Birchwood Schools and volunteering at the Birchwood Food Pantry.
Dave found retirement was not to his liking so he became the baliff for all Barron County jury trials and started working as a substitute teacher in the Birchwood School System and is still actively doing both. In 2010 Dave was appointed to the Four Corners Police Commission and is still serving as it Chairman. Dave served four years on the Board of the Red Cedar Lakes Association.
Dave and Sharon have been active volunteers with the Mikana Parade Committee and for years they could be found operating the adult games (roulette & dice) on Parade Day. Dave also collected prizes for the raffle. They are active members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Birchwood.
Dave and Sharon enjoy fishing and pontooning on Red Cedar Lake. They have two children and four grandchildren who also keep them active on the lake during the summer. They are members of Tagalong Golf Club and enjoy golfing and socializing with their neighbors. Sharon is a league bowler and plays in several card clubs. They know they are very lucky to have settled in Cedar Lake and feel that their many friends here are part of their extended family.
Please join the Mikana Parade Committee in honoring Dave and Sharon as the 2017 Parade Marshals.
Some of the Crew
This is just a few of the volunteers who make the Biggest Little Parade happen every year.
Get In Touch
We would love to hear from you!
Mary Hele @612-618-7679