Crowds gather for annual Oregon Trail Days Parade; celebration marks 97th year

July 16, 2018

GERING — Tenth Street in Gering was lined with people of all ages, ready to watch floats and cars work their way down the street as a part of the 97th annual Oregon Trail Days parade Saturday, July 14.

With around 40 floats, the parade lasted just over an hour and featured floats and vehicles from organizations throughout the county, from the Gering Fire Department exhibiting its various engines and vehicles to the Riverside Discovery Center, which won the parade’s top prize for their zoo-themed float.

This year’s float theme was “Pioneer Spirit on the Oregon Trail,” and many floats did their best to tie the Oregon Trail into their float.

Lesley Gaunt, a ranger at the Scotts Bluff National Monument, walked with the Legacy of the Plains and Scotts Bluff National Monument float, also promoting the American Solar Challenge, with solar cars making a stop at the Legacy of the Plains Museum on Sunday, July 15. The solar challenge this year is following the Oregon Trail, and the monument is a key landmark along the trail.

“The national monument is mainly there because of the trails going along the path,” Gaunt said.

The theme of their float was “Pioneering Oregon Trail, Past and Future.” Their float featured a covered wagon and pioneers with “solar panels” attached to their hats.

For Gaunt, the best part of Oregon Trail Days is seeing the community get involved with the history.

“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to see a lot,” she said. “It’s a huge community effort.”

Music echoed down the street as various radio stations rode along, playing some hits the crowd could dance along to.

The Gering High School Band led the parade, and the Junior High School Band also performed near the end.

There was even a golf cart playing songs by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers that made its way down the street, promoting the upcoming concert in town, and a float for Camp Rock playing songs with kids performing choreographed dances.

Parade Chairman John Ewing was very pleased with the turnout.

He said Oregon Trail Days have had a “good response from the community.”

“We thank all of the local businesses for being in it,” Ewing said.

Colin Borgman, with the Gering Fire Department, loves “giving back to the community” through working with the fire department. Doing the parade helps the community get to know the fire department and what they have to offer.

“This is a way they can see them (fire engines and equipment), and they see some of us,” Borgman said. “(It) shows them what their tax money went to.”

Oregon Trail Days is ran on a volunteer basis, meaning those who work are taking time off from their regular jobs to put on the annual event.

“(We) take our vacation days and do this,” Ewing said. “Oregon Trail Days has good volunteers.”

Oregon Trail Days carries into Sunday, July 15, with the Oregon Trail Days & Panhandle Quilt Guild Regional Quilt Show at noon at Gering Zion Church. Then, at 7 p.m. Sunday, there will be a performance by the Hebberts and special guests for the Gospel Jubilee at Legion Park.

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