Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Norwood community leaders are making sure their beloved holiday will still take place. Thanks to a collaboration involving the Wright’s Mesa Historical Society, the Town of Norwood and the Norwood Chamber of Commerce, Pioneer Day will happen Sept. 26.
The theme for the 84th edition of the annual event is “Pioneer Patriotism, Now and Then.”
As always, the day begins with a parade down Grand Avenue. Parade lineup is at 10:15 a.m. at the Norwood Community Center, and those planning to ride a horse, have a float or car, or walk, must check in. Town officials ask that anyone planning to participate also pre-register with town administrator Patti Grafmyer or town clerk Gretchen Wells.
Categories for the parade include youth, private entries, business entries, school grades or clubs, and automobiles or motorcycles.
At 10:30 a.m., the coronation of the Pioneer Day royalty will take place on Main Street (Grand Avenue) in front of the U.S. Post Office.
There, the Young family will be honored. Jacque Franklin, Carolynn Young and Jim Young will share the honors. The old omnibus (the historic stagecoach that Roudy Roudebush pulls down the street with his draft horses) is limited to eight people this year, but other Young family members will follow on horses.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. Masks and social distancing are required for the event, per San Miguel County public health guidelines. Town officials will judge the entries and give awards.
Wells has spent time working with Grace Franklin, the county’s public health director. Wells said Franklin has been supportive and feels the plan is a good one.
Blue painter’s tape will be set up every 12 feet down the street. That will give people a guideline for proper social distancing. Wells said even though only six feet is required, it’s good to accommodate for small groups. She said it gives space for moving and traveling.
With the street being 70 feet wide, the parade will leave a space that is 25 feet on either side of the moving parade in order to give the public room.
Typically, the “bandits” — think Verne Soucie in the old days — walk around the parade and “hold up” citizens for money that goes to the kids’ games on the field. This year, the “bandits” will hand out masks to encourage people to cover up. Wells said the town and Hi-Country Motorsports are donating the bandanas. She thinks it could be fun.
The chuck wagon dinner is still a go, but this year folks will get take-out from the school’s all-purpose room. Norwood High School’s FFA will prepare the meal, and for $15, patrons can support FFA and then get a meal to enjoy outdoors at noon.
Norwood leaders invite families to take their food to Pig Palace at the San Miguel Basin Fairgrounds or the school’s football field. They’re welcome to bring chairs and tables to set up, too.
The old-fashioned games happen on the field at 1:30 p.m.
Anyone who needs more information on Pioneer Day is welcome to call Grafmyer or Wells at 970-327-4288.
Mayor Kieffer Parrino said he thanked Wells for going “above and beyond” in her work to help make sure the holiday happened.
The county’s public health director said Norwood was setting the stage for how to “do groups and events” during the pandemic.
“This done well could be a map for how to continue in COVID,” Franklin said.