Saturday, July 10, 2010
Today the town of Dupree (population 434) celebrated their centennial with a parade. Small town parades are an experience all in themselves. I wanted to get to main street early so I could get a good seat, but there was plenty of room because almost everyone in town was in the parade.
The town was founded on land donated by Fred Dupris, a French and Lakota trader whom the town was named after. He and Scotty Phillips are credited with saving the buffalo when they were almost hunted to extinction. One of the floats included many of his descendants who live in the area.
Another float had all the grandchildren of the Norwegian homesteaders who came to the area in 1910. There were antique tractors, powwow royalty riding in the back of pickups, and politicians positioning themselves for the November elections. All threw candy into the streets as children scrambled for the goodies.
I actually got to see the parade twice. Main street is only 5 blocks long, and the parade went south along the length of the town, then did a U-turn and came back north again.
Just a month ago a tornado went through the heart of town. The elderly manor was hit hard and residents had to be relocated to other area towns. Pioneer Hall – the community center – was damaged beyond repair and had to be bulldozed. In its place stands a large circus tent; the show and the centennial must go on.
It’s very indicative of life on these isolated prairie towns. People face great hardship with weather and life circumstances, but they find it within themselves to rebuild and keep going.
As I walked the sidewalks and stayed at the church for Saturday evening mass, the best part was seeing folks that I spent ten years of my life with. Some of those I remember as children are now parents. We recalled weddings and baptisms, sad funerals and times that made us laugh. So many of these folks have kept me in their prayers these past months and it was wonderful to be able to thank them in person and renew the ties of friendship.