MERRICOURT, N.D. (AP) _ The celebration of Merricourt's centennial, parade and all, was a big hit with townsfolk. Both of them.

About 1,500 visitors cheered Emil Geisler and his wife, Elsie, the town's only residents, as they rode down the main street in an open convertible.

''This is really something new, I'll tell you,'' Geisler said. ''I'm glad it turned out this way.''

The couple moved to Merricourt, 105 miles southeast of Bismarck, in 1978, when the population stood at 15. In the last two years, everyone either moved or died.

Geisler said people think he's crazy for living here, but the two are proud of the town.

''They say, 'What will you do after the centennial? There won't be anything here,''' Geisler said. ''And I say, 'We ain't moving.'''

The couple's home is the only livable building in Merricourt.

About 50 people watched the parade from the crumbling cement steps of a dance hall.

''It's sad,'' said Sharon Ulmer, who grew up on a farm nearby. ''It's like coming for a funeral.

''This is where I learned to dance,'' she said, pointing to the wooden floor. ''And I had my wedding dance here.''

Others visited the Do-Drop Inn, where the original sign hangs outside, advertising soup for 15 cents and cheeseburgers for a quarter.

The town's population peaked at 153 in 1940. The centennial logo features past businesses that once thrived, including a cheese factory, a radio station and brick elevator.

The town also supported five hardware stores, three combination grocery and clothing stores, four other grain elevators, two churches and two banks.

The post office was the last to go, closing in September last year.