Always one of the high points of West Fest is the Grand Parade, which will get underway at 1 p.m., with longtime West Fargo resident, business person and state senator Judy Lee, leading the parade down Sheyenne St. She will be riding in the front seat of her 1911 Buick Model 21 Touring Car with son Jon Lee in the driver's seat. Other special guest passengers will include Judy's daughter, Maren Matal, and her three children, John, Elizabeth, and Margaret.
Daughter-in-law, Billie Jean Lee, will also be in attendance for the parade; as will Judy's sister and brother-in-law Mary Jo and Lloyd Odegard, who live in West Fargo. Son-in-law Joe Matal will be unable to attend West Fest.
The car is Judy's pride and joy. It was purchased by her late husband Duane on March 27, 1997 from an owner in Iowa. At the time it was in good condition and drivable, but Duane had it repainted the authentic, original dark green color with butter yellow pin-striping and wheels. He also had the engine re-worked, replaced the battleship linoleum on the floorboards and running boards, replaced the wood instrument panel, and put on new tires. The leather upholstery and retractable roof are original; and the tank along the right running board is for acetylene to fuel the headlights.
Judy said that neighbor and friend, Gary Speich, worked with Duane on the car when they lived across the street from each. Gary has continued to keep the car running and in good order since Duane's death in 2001. "It is an annual family project to polish the brass, a project that Duane worked on weekly," Judy said. "It looks so good, when everything shines."
Consequently, Judy is looking forward to enjoyingthe West Fest activities with her family and friends and also celebrating her grandson John's tenthbirthday which is Sept. 13. Family members are flying in on Thursday night and returning home to Bethesda, Md. and Plano, Texas on Sunday afternoon, so their time will be short.
Judy also plans on featuring her Buick again during the last Cruise Night of the season. "It is always fun to participate and visit with all of the folks. What a great community event it has become. It is such a pleasure to see all of the cars and all of the fun that people have. I appreciate the work of the Toppers Car Club in putting on Cruisin' Sheyenne."
Judy said she is "so honored to have been named Grand Marshall for the West Fest parade. I have ridden or walked the parade route every year since 1994, and it will be especially fun to lead it with my family. There are so many people who work together every day to make West Fargo special that we really should have several buses for Grand Marshalls. I appreciate all those who work hard, not only to put on West Fest, but to make our community a place of which we can all be proud, including our schools, our city government, police, fire, and public works departments, parks, businesses, and everyone who helps to make our neighborhoods and business districts attractive and appealing. The growth I've seen since we moved to West Fargo has happened because of the visionary leadership of many people, and we must remember what was done by others and continue their work to keep West Fargo moving ahead. I encourage everyone to consider participating in some community activity, whether it is volunteering at the library or a school, coaching a kids' athletic team, visiting folks at Sheyenne Crossings and the high rise, or attending and possibly running for a public position. Together we can do great things!"
The parade lineup will begin at the Lodoen Community Center, 109 3rd St. E., at 9:30 a.m. with entries lining up on a first-come, first-served basis.
Large units need to go right to Sheyenne Street and line up there, while all other units should travel down Fourth Avenue and go north on Fourth Street where they will be directed.
This year's parade route will start at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Sheyenne Street and travel down Sheyenne Street, ending at 10th Avenue West.
Like last year, extra incentives will be awarded to the best of theme, with first place earning a $1,000 cash prize; and Mayor's choice and Community Pride winners taking home $500 each.
The winners will of course be selected before the parade and recognized as they are announced during the parade line-up.
Hagge's from Mapleton was last year's winner, earning the right to travel the parade route in the reserve section this year.
The West Fargo Public Library will be closed Saturday, Sept. 15, due to the parade lineup, and will reopen for regular hours Sunday, Sept. 16.