BY PCC STAFF
FORT MADISON – The organizing committee announced today that Kumar K. Wickramasingha has been named grand marshal for the 109th annual Charlie Korschgen 4th of July Kiddie Parade to be held beginning at 10 a.m. July 3 at 18th & Avenue G and ending at the Loyal order of Moose parking lot. Kumar was chosen for his many year of promoting youth education at Elliot’s Test Kitchen.
As always the parade will be youth oriented however many area organizations, industries and businesses are encouraged to take part in the historic event to not only celebrate the 109th year but the birth of our nation and Iowa’s 175th birthday.
The parade will begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday July 3 at the south side of the Fort Madison Middle School in the 1800 block of Avenue G and proceed east up Avenue G to the Loyal Order of Moose Parking Lot in the 600 block of Avenue G. Pre-registration in not required, however, forms may be picked up a Dodd Printing and Stationery, 621 Avenue G, and be turned in at the registration desk the morning of the parade.
Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. at the South entrance to the old Middle School, and entries will be lined up in the various categories. For those parents having small children who are not able to participate the full length of the parade they should register and then meet in the 900 block of Avenue G in front of the Aldi Market and parade officials will see they get placed in the proper spot in the parade.
Judged categories for this years’ parade will be: decorated tri-cycle or stroller; decorated wagon or float; walking or marching group; junior decorated bicycle (age 8 and under); pets; humorous; family unit; patriotic; senior decorated bicycle (over age 8) and a motorized category for the larger units.
The committee has also purchased commemorative ribbons far each parade participant and trophies as well as prize money will be given to the winners of each category. The prize money for this parade is $15.00 for 1st Place, $12.00 for 2nd place and $10.00 for third place. Several $5.00 honorable mention prizes will also be awarded.
At the end of the parade, members of the local Moose Club, will be serving treats to all the participants as they have done since 1946 and as the prize winners are being announced items donated by area merchants will be given away to the parade participants. During the last few parades many area businesses have given gift certificates, toys, bicycles, etc. so every child that participates will get more than just being patriotic. Items for this year’s parade and raffle may still be left off at the local Moose Lodge or the North Lee County Historical Society Museum.
In case of inclement weather, which seldom happens, the parade will be held on Sunday, July 4th.
The parade got its beginnings back in 1913 when a young AT&SF car department clerk, Charles C. Korschgen, saw his neighborhood kids had nothing to do on the 4th of July, so he purchased a dozen small flags strapped his snare drum around his neck and led them many times around block in the west end of Fort Madison.
Having started a tradition, Charlie continued this routine for many years, gradually increasing the parade route and buying the participants candy with his own money. Finally by the time the 1930’s rolled around the participation had grown so that Charlie got help from fellow workers at the AT&SF and neighbors to assist with the treats and the parade. By this time the “east enders” had noticed the importance of the parade and invited Charlie to lead his band of patriots into the Fort Madison downtown district. One loyal youngster who took part in the first parade, Don Valentine, stayed with the parade until Charlie passed away in January 1966 after leading 53 parades. Don Valentine helped the Fort Madison Jaycees keep the tradition alive.
By the 1940’s, Charlie was having 500 to 1,000 kids take part in the parade and by 1946, when the Loyal Order of the Moose started providing treats the “grand old-man” as Charlie was called just had to organize the parade. With age catching up with Charlie the Fort Madison Junior Chamber of Commerce volunteered to take over the organization of the parade and continued to do so until the local Jaycee Chapter disbanded in 1999 and since that time a small dedicated group of volunteers have kept the parade going and in 2008 incorporated as a non-profit corporation.
Everyone young and old is invited to take part in the parade to celebrate our nation’s birthday, however, the committee reserves to right to refuse entries not in the spirit of the holiday or would create a safety hazard to those participating in the parade.
Those having any questions on the parade or if interested in volunteering to assist the committee to keep the parade safe and on time, contact L. D. “Andy” Andrews at 319-371-5379.