PURCELL — The wagon train that left Lawton on April 11 and pulled into the McClain County’s Expo Center early Wednesday afternoon, hoping to beat the spring storm that was forecast for central Oklahoma later that day.
The riders and their teams were hoping to take refuge inside the building in preparation for the ride to Norman and participation in Saturday’s 10 a.m. ’89er Day parade on Main Street.
Wagon master Robert Palmer said the six wagons and numerous riders on horseback will visit schools in Purcell and Lexington before heading to a Slaughterville Ranch for tonight’s camp.
“There will be a lot of people out here Thursday,” Palmer said. “We’ll visit the nursing home and the schools here and in Lexington.”
A couple of the wagons had to leave the trek to get home to Arkansas. Palmer said they have had no weather problems and only one ugly incident with a car.
“We sent an SUV after them and got their tag,” he said.
Also Wednesday, parade organizers announced that area schools are providing more bands than ever before.
A couple of years ago, the parade committee invited Fred Queen, Noble marching band director, to join their efforts and specifically requested that he work on increasing the number of bands for the parade.
“His results exceeded the committee’s anticipation,” said committee chairman Charles Hollingsworth.
Those marching in the 2013 ’89er Day Parade are Noble High School, Noble Middle High, Lexington High School, Capitol Hill High School Drum Line, Blanchard High School and Southeast High School.
Norman North Jazz Band will entertain at the judge’s stand just prior to the official kickoff of the parade.
Another marching band returning as a tradition of the ’89er Day Parade is the U.S. Army Band stationed at Ft. Sill Army Base.
A bonus and crowd pleaser this year will be the performance of the very popular Scottish Pipes and Drums. They have been a regular entry of the ’89er Day Parade for several years.
Also new this year, the committee acquired a turn of the century “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” carriage. The 2013 parade will be its “official” launching. Special guests, Pat Sloan and Charles Peters have been selected to ride in this vintage carriage.
Sloan is a native Oklahoman having resided most of her life in Bartlesville before moving to Norman and Peters lived in New Hampshire before re-locating to Norman.
These 94-year-old “best friends” became acquainted at Rivermont Retirement Home.
The parade route calls for the color guard to mark the beginning of the parade at 10 a.m. at Norman High School, followed by the Grand Marshal Bob Goins.
Goins’ family will join him in the traditional grand marshal carriage.
The parade committee has selected a theme of “Workin’ Up a Storm” to celebrate Norman’s special relationship with weather.
Parade goers will be treated with floats and entries that are cleverly embracing this theme.