Loyalty Days a ‘divine’ celebration in Spring Valley

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE First District Commander Nathan Pike waves to the crowd during the parade.

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Keeping guests at the VFW Hall open house filled with red, white and blue treats are, from the left, Cassie Jones, Ashley Lange, Ann Thon, Char O’Connor and Linda Niemeyer.

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association was one of several motorcycle groups that took part in the parade.

DAVID PHILLIPS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE The Merry Medics also drove, not always in a straight line, in the parade on Sunday.
David Phillips

Loyalty Days in Spring Valley last weekend went off without a hitch as the rain that has been so prevalent this spring mostly held off for the three days of activities.

VFW Hanson-Raabe 4114 post and auxiliary members, hosts for the event, attributed the perfect weather to divine intervention. The previous weekend, the area was hit with snow and forecasters had predicted rain for Sunday, the day of the parade.

Nathan Pike, who was first district commander until Saturday when Tom French of Chatfield took over the reins, had told Kiwanis members prior to the event that he was hoping the late Dale Wondrasch, a very active local VFW member, had “some connections with the divine up there and we have a really good weekend.”

The celebration is planned by the district commander, usually in his home city on the weekend closest to May 1, which is Loyalty Day. Pike took a risk with a full weekend of many outdoor activities. There hasn’t been a parade during Loyalty Days for several years.

The First District of the VFW covers the entire southeastern corner of Minnesota. A total of 29 posts are included in the district. During the weekend, the VFW and auxiliary members met to elect new officers and take care of other annual business.

Loyalty Day was designated by Congress in 1958 — an answer to rebut the celebration of May Day, when communists previously held rallies. The VFW was instrumental in getting this day established to recognize Americanism.

In addition to the parade Sunday afternoon, when the sun came out after some dark clouds rolled in during the late morning, there was a Civil War reenactment all day Saturday (see next week’s Tribune for photos of that activity). The weekend events concluded with a community open house at the recently remodeled VFW Hall.

The parade started off with a bang as the Civil War re-enactors shot a cannon at the top of the north hill overlooking downtown. Also taking part in the parade were VFW and American Legion posts from throughout the district, the Kingsland drum line, local businesses and other floats.

The Civil War encampment drew a large crowd Saturday. Residents experienced Civil War life, but also learned much as the reenactors interpreted the history of that era.

Spring Valley has hosted Loyalty Days celebrations for past district commanders Steve O’Connor, Larry Niemeyer and Troy Westphal.