Riding the winning float | RecordCourier.com

Riding the winning float

by Jonni Hill

More than 6,000 lights decorated the first-place winning county category float entered by the Town of Minden, Saturday night, at the 10th annual Parade of Lights sponsored by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce. For a brief moment, I was allowed to be a part of the experience.

This was an award not easily won by the town. The Town of Minden has competed five years in the event, holding meetings to choose the themes and the public works crew has put in uncountable hours to bring the concepts of the floats to reality. The final result was this year’s project, well done by the nine public works employees.

The Town of Minden float entered fourth in the lineup of more than 41 entries in the Parade of Lights event and won a first place in its category.

It is not an easy job to participate in this “Christmas spirited event,” according to trash services supervisor and parade coordinator B.J. Strauser.

“It took almost three weeks to put the float together with all of us doing the work on it during extra time we had throughout our regular duties at work, not to mention the time some of us spent after work.”

“They put their hearts into it,” Strauser said, referring to the public work’s crew that put so much time and attention into the project. “After coming in second last year, we all wanted to try for a float that might win.”

It all started with a bare flat bed trailer and the theme “Home for the Holidays.” Within days the framework of a high country log cabin in the snow took shape. The cabin was made from heavy cardboard carpet rolls donated by Summit Carpet, lined up and painted to resemble cabin logs. The chimney was made from cardboard donated by Marty’s Appliance, painted by Kirt Benson using a sponge dipped in red paint to resemble brick. The fire in the fireplace, made by Tom Haar, was flickering so realistically, you could feel the warmth and the smoke billowing out of the chimney. No detail was left ignored.

The power for the float came from the Minden Parks Department dump truck. New to the Town of Minden, the truck used daily by James Smith, was decorated with more than 2,000 lights and several trees, one of which had over 800 lights on it, and deer standing in a white batting snow scene.

The evening of the parade was a crisp 32 degrees as the sun set over Jobs Peak and entries lined up for the parade at 5 p.m. The Minden float was ready to go. Aboard the float was Trish Koepnick, playing the part of “granny” in a rocking chair reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to chairman of the board Bob Hatfield and Minden Town Board members Ross Chichester, Ray Wilson and Bruce Jacobsen.

Starting from Waterloo Lane, turning left onto Highway 395, the crowds of chilled spectators cheered as candy was tossed by the float’s town board members. Bringing up the rear of the float was Ron Theodore and Susan Escamillo on lighted horse back, loaded with wrapped packages and heading “Home for The Holidays.”

As a rider on the float that night, I was amazed at the response by the crowds as we passed by. Sitting in the cold that night, some on the street and others in their cars trying to stay warm, all seemed mesmerized by the display of lights as the parade passed by them. The award-winning Douglas High School band preceded us, adding to the excitement of the crowds that braved the cold. As we got closer to Minden, the crowds increased becoming eight persons deep as we passed the judges stand and headed down Esmeralda Avenue.

Having never been part of this parade or ever seeing it before, it was a magical night for me, one of sparking lights and special moments. The efforts of all the participants were spectacular and the judges must have had a hard time deciding the winners. As all the participants came down Esmeralda and circled Minden Park, the illuminated display was more than impressive. I thank the Town of Minden for allowing me to be a part of the experience from start to an award-winning end.

n Jonni Hill is an editorial assistant at The Record Courier. To reach her, call 782-5121, ext. 213, or e-mail jhill@recordcourier.com