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Parade announcing is 48-year family tradition

Staff writer

A day celebrating alumni and reminiscing marks a family tradition for Casey Case.

Case announces the Old Settlers’ Day parade, which his dad, Alex, did for 30 years, 1969-99. Case stepped into his father’s shoes, or maybe not his father’s shoes, when he took on the role in 2000.

“He wore a suit and a tie,” the younger Case said with a laugh.

Case, on the other hand, wears shorts and a Hawaiian or Kiwanis Club shirt. But clothing choice isn’t the only difference in his announcing style.

“He really did his homework, whatever the theme was for the parade, he would dig into it and give a little history throughout the parade,” Case said.

The shorts can be a comfortable choice.

“If we’re lucky, it’s 80 degrees,” he said. “The biggest issue is if it’s a windy day, it makes it hard to keep your papers from blowing away, and of course feedback in the mic.”

Case, who is entering his 18th year announcing the parade, either comes up with his own material or reads information provided by entrants.

“There really isn’t a lot of time to add a lot of humor or seriousness; it’s matter of fact,” he said. “I will rib some of the classes if they’re close to my age.”

Case graduated in 1979. This year’s reunion classes will include ’77 and ’82, but the class of ’80 is his favorite to pick on.

“They all throw stuff at me,” he said. “They always make a point to pelt me with as much candy as they can.”

If they are just trying to sweeten him up, they need only wait until years with his class in the parade.

“And of course, every year when my class goes through, I announce them as the greatest class in the history of Marion High School,” he said.

Holding class reunions on Old Settlers’ Day, which has been common practice for about 20-25 years, plays an important role in the day’s success, Case said.

“I don’t know if ‘saved’ is the right word, but once the classes started embracing that idea of Old Settlers’ Day, it’s been as strong as it’s ever been,” he said.

Case organizes the parade lineup of about 60 entrants, including fire trucks first, the grand marshal, antique cars, politicians — especially in election years — graduated and current high school classes, homecoming royalty, marching bands, scouts, churches, farm implements, and others.

“The whole key to a successful parade is the people on the parade lineup, getting them in order,” Case said. “Keep the parade moving steadily along.”

An out of order float forces him to improvise until he figures out where on the list they are.

“The parade will hopefully go through in order,” he said. “They never do. There’s always somebody out of order.”

An individual entry can sometimes slow the pace of the parade.

“The last time that Hillsboro came with their band,” Case said, “they were marching right through the parade and they stopped right in front of my trailer and played like a 10-minute song. Just stopped and played it. I’m sitting there thinking come on. You watch the front of the parade, they’re almost all the way to the park, and the band’s still sitting there playing, and the rest of the parade’s stalled out.”

Another year, a group handing out water bottles slowed the parade to a crawl.

A perfect parade finishes in an hour, he said, to keep on schedule with a parade at 11 a.m., picnic lunch at noon, games at 1 p.m., band concert at 2 p.m., and class introductions at 2:30 p.m.

“Last year really was one of the best parades we’ve ever had, and that’s because rain was coming,” Case said. “We had the entrants just boom, boom, boom one after the other, and it went as smooth as it’s ever gone.”

This year’s theme is “Looking forward to our next 100 years of progress,” but there might not be a grand marshal.

“This year, with the theme, who are you going to put as grand marshals for that?” he said.

Even if there is no grand marshal, Case looks forward to the festivities.

“It’s always special, it’s always the best one ever,” he said.

Last modified Sept. 14, 2017

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