June 8, 2017
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION – When Ryan Hale met his wife, a Brillion native, he quickly became accustomed to the annual event known as Brillion Fest. Now he’s in his first year as the chairperson of Friday night’s Optimistic Electric Parade.
“It’s our community’s way off celebrating the kickoff to summer,” Hale said.
This year’s parade is the 23rd annual and begins at 9:00 p.m. People will begin gathering earlier in the night to get their spots along the street, stop by concessions and participate in 50/50 raffles.
Each year’s parade is special, and this year is no exception. The Racine Explorer Drum Corps is in their 90th year and are making their first ever appearance in Brillion. The band was started by a boy scout troop in 1927.
The band is sponsored by Bob and Pat Endries, who are one of the 30 sponsors that make the parade possible. “This year we’ve had tremendous support from the community,” Hale said.
This year also includes the return of the Cherry Point Marine Band from Cherry Point, North Carolina who were in Brillion two years ago. Other featured bands of the parade include the: 484th Army Reserve Band, Americanos Alumni Corps, Brillion High School, Lakeside Lutheran High School, Lutheran Vanguard of WI, Pioneer Band, Reedsville Lioness Hi Steppers, Valders High School and Wayside Morrison Band.
The parade is part of the weekend festivities that include Brillion Fest at Peters Park on Saturday, rummage sales throughout the city and the Old Glory Honor Flight Brat Fry at Primary parking lot on Friday afternoon.
Last year’s parade was cancelled due to tornado warnings in the area and thunder and lightning. The parade will take place if it’s only raining, but any inclement weather shuts down the event. This year, the optimist club has planned for the parade participants to have the option of showing their float off at Saturday’s Brillion Fest from 11-2 p.m., in case of bad weather on Friday night.
“We didn’t feel great about it last year,” Hale said. Once the weather rolled in, the floats who had been preparing were sent home. Hale and the optimists wanted to create a way where if it happens again, they still have the option to be part of the weekend. “What could we do?” Hale said the group asked themselves.
Hale has been a part of the optimist club for more than two years and has worked to ingrain himself in the community. Serving as the chairperson for the event has been a positive experience, though he’s humble to take too much credit because of the tradition of the weekend the people who served before him helped create.
“I guess I was a little surprised at how much momentum this thing has,” Hale said. “There’s a lot of stuff that just happened on its own.”
This story was featured in the June 8, 2017 edition of The Brillion News.