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The Territorial Dispatch
September 4, 1996

The Labor Day Phenomenon in Nicolas, California

We've heard about it for years and years... well, six of 'em at least. One year we were actually traveling down Highway 99 and saw all the commotion as we went by.

Singin' John said it was the greatest... and he's not a man that is loose with the superlatives. So we decided this was the year.

Maybe we could catch the phenomenon on video tape and put it up on the Internet. We awoke to a fine morning. "Whens it start?" Steve asked. "Oh," I said. "There's a pancake breakfast at 7 or 7:30. We already missed that. But things are to start happening at 10 and run throughout the day."

It was a great day for a ride. Not much traffic. Cool air. Sunshine. A made-to-order day. We crossed the river, turned off the highway, rounded the bend toward Nicolas and followed suit as the car ahead of us pulled off the road to the left and parked on the edge of a row of walnut trees along the levee. It was the sunny side of the street, but the sun didn't seem too hot at the time.

People were buzzin' up and down the road on quadrunners, carrying out preparation duties, no doubt. A couple of youngsters came down the road on one pulling a little trailer full of iced sodas, donuts and hot coffee.

I bought a coffee and asked it that was a good place to watch from. "Yep. Starts up there," she pointed. "And goes right down through here," said the mom of the two kids following close behind them... on foot.

I looked the way she pointed but saw nothing, so I went back to the truck, put down the tailgate, drank my coffee and waited.

A turkey vulture was riding thermals above the walnut orchard across the road. It circled several times and then moved on as unaware of the people scurrying to and fro below him as they were of his motionless-wing gliding in the blue sky above.

A clean white airliner seemed to follow Highway 99 southbound for awhile and then veered off westward, to get into the flight pattern at Sacramento's airport, no doubt. Then the little girls across the road from us began to squeal. "Look!" they pointed up the road. And it was true.

The Sixth Annual Labor Day Parade had begun in Nicolas, California. It was great, like John said.

Some fire engines came first, and 4-H'rs and horses, old cars, old trucks, old tractors, old politicians, cheerleaders, ball teams, drill teams, a melon stand on wheels, more horses and riders, Shriners, bands, wagons and a train.

The train was a three car float with an engine, flatcar and caboose. I was told that it was created by the students from East Nicolas High School. They and their teachers should be commended... it was really something to see. It even puffed smoke.

It was a great parade in Nicolas... not East Nicolas, mind you... Nicolas. I suspect that some other units entered the parade a little closer on in to town than we were parked so I may not have taped it all, but I have the biggest share of the event recorded forever.

The phenomenal part of all this is the people who came from everywhere to see this parade. We followed the last of the parade into town. We had to go straight when the parade turn on Marcum Road. We stayed on the road that passes though Nicolas and goes on around the bend and after a ways, comes to an intersection with Highway 70 in East Nicolas.

Cars were lined bumper to bumper (sometimes even two or three deep) along both sides of the road almost the whole way to East Nicolas. There were also field/parking lots, driveways and yards full of cars.

We couldn't believe we got the good parking place we did, so close to the edge of town on the west side when we saw all the cars on the east side! What a phenomenon!

There were craft and food booths and some more entertainment but we had to head home. So did a lot of other folks, many of whom came just for the parade... and a little taste of Americana... small town USA.

Maybe the American Dream isn't dead. Maybe it's just hiding out in Nicolas, California. Way to go! Nicolas! Keep your eye on the Yuba Sutter Website. Steve and I want to tell the whole world about you!

Quote of the Week ...
There must have been something so very right about Americanism, for the days it was practiced it brought us from thirteen undeveloped colonies to the world's greatest-ever nation and brought Americans to new heights in life, liberty and well-being.
&emdash;J. Kesner Kahn

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