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Arlee 4th of July Parade was a feast for the eyes

By B.L. Azure
Char-Koosta News

The Nest, the Salish language immersion preschool, won the grand prize. (B.L. Azure photo) The Nest, the Salish language immersion preschool, won the grand prize. (B.L. Azure photo)

ARLEE — The annual 4th of July Parade in Arlee had a big behind the scenes hitch in the giddy-up but that didn’t seem to deter participation nor did it dampen the attendance of enthusiastic parade watchers. The hitch pulled the parade off the northbound lane of Highway 93 and put it on the Arlee residential streets.

“The Montana Department of Transportation’s policy has been a huge, huge problem for us using the highway through town,” said Alvaretta Morin, whose family has been the big push behind the annual parade scenes for many, many years. “A few years ago we thought we should put it through town. During the Highway 93 (reconstruction) hearings we were told that the couplet through town would be ideal for many reasons including being able to route it (parade) through town on the new highway (northbound lane).”

Irma and Bear Malatare were the Grand Marshals of the Arlee 4th of July Parade. (B.L. Azure photo) Irma and Bear Malatare were the Grand Marshals of the Arlee 4th of July Parade. (B.L. Azure photo)

The family was able to pull that off a few times but it was a very expensive labor-intensive bureaucratic process. “Putting the parade through town on the highway just became too big of a hassle,” Morin said, adding that the MDT policy regarding the amount of insurance parade organizers needed became an expense-prohibitive. “People just don’t understand the work and expense that goes into putting on the parade. There are just too many issues with the logistics and regulations on the highway route.”

The highway route required more labor and the heat was also a factor. Morin said there would often be enough labor to set things up at the beginning of the parade. However, often the volunteer help would not show up in full force after the parade to remove the cones and other apparatus required to mark the temporary lane changes. She said volunteers have other things planned for the day and often leave to attend other public or family events, and perhaps to avoid the afternoon heat.

Smokey The Bear, and his chauffer Devlin Lafromboise are reminders that the area is now in the fire season so be careful with fire. (B.L. Azure photo) Smokey The Bear, and his chauffer Devlin Lafromboise are reminders that the area is now in the fire season so be careful with fire. (B.L. Azure photo)

Despite having to put the parade on through the unincorporated town’s streets, Morin was upbeat about the number of parade entries and the number of people of all ages who lined the parade route.

“I thought it was a wonderful parade,” Morin said. “I thought it might be a flop but it turned out fine. A parade is still a parade and they are fun. It’s Americana and something we just have to have on the 4th of July. We got her done again.”

The parade grand marshals were Bear and Irma Malatare.

The Arlee High School athletics were featured at the Arlee Museum display and on this float.  (B.L. Azure photo) The Arlee High School athletics were featured at the Arlee Museum display and on this float. (B.L. Azure photo)

“They are very good examples of the community,” Morin said. “Our displays at the museum feature the Arlee High School athletics, especially the accomplishments of the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. I believe Irma and Bear are directly related to seven players on the teams.” The Warriors won the State C Tournament championship and the Scarlets placed second in the State C Tournament. “

The Force was with Mr. D. Vader and the Storm-trooper as they won the Novelty Humorous Adult category. (B.L. Azure photo)  The Force was with Mr. D. Vader and the Storm-trooper as they won the Novelty Humorous Adult category. (B.L. Azure photo)

Morin said there were not any entries in the Indian Regalia category, and she wondered if it was that two parades were scheduled in Arlee that day: The Arlee community parade that began at 12-noon, and one at the Arlee Esyapqeni (Celebration) grounds that began at 1 p.m. She also speculated that the day (Tuesday) that the 4th of July fell on could have been a factor also, as people may have been tired out after six days of powwowing, may have had to work or get back home to be ready for work the next day. Whatever the reasons, she hopes it is just a one-year blip.

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