One of Stone Bank’s most beloved summer traditions could be in jeopardy unless the community gets involved, organizers said Thursday.
The Lion’s Club has sponsored the Fourth of July parade and its accompanying community festival since 1954, but parade planners say an aging membership can no longer shoulder the burden of the festivities on its own.
“Due to increased work and less members, the Stone Bank Lion’s Club is discussing the possible end to a fifty plus year tradition,” a press release from the Lion’s Club read.
Stone Bank Lion’s Club President Joanne Heup said the all-volunteer force that mans the parade’s posts, directs traffic, lines up floats and fire trucks, grills the corn on the cob and pours the beer could use a helping hand.
“If the parade is going to continue, we’re going to really need some help from the community, in terms of stepping up and volunteering in any capacity,” Heup said in an interview.
The community service organization hopes the community will step up to the plate to help with setup, the parade, and the festival that follows. More than 8,000 people fill the streets for the annual parade.
Heup said people need not become members of the Lion’s Club to help.
“We’re certainly always welcome for people to join the Lion’s Club, but they don’t have to join the Lion’s Club just to help out for a little bit - if they would be willing to come and pitch in,” she said.
Boy Scouts and church groups have historically assisted in running the event, but with so many Lion’s Club members in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the need is growing and perhaps greater than ever.
In particular, Heup said, the group needs help serving the rush of people that file into Stone Bank Community Park for food and drink after the parade’s conclusion. The parade begins every year at 11 a.m., and the two hours that follow are the busiest. Parade setup begins at 9 a.m., when organizers could use assistance from the community as well.
At stake is a Lake Country tradition as American as apple pie and fireworks.
Said Heup, “We have parade marshals that honor longstanding members of the community. Ewald usually donates the use of some cars for our dignitaries to ride on, so it’s a real community event that’s just been happening for so many years. It’s really amazing how many people are here on the Fourth of July.”
The parade and festival represent the biggest event and fundraiser of the year for the Lion’s Club, which distributes its funds for college scholarships, the food pantry, and various other local groups in need.
Running from Stone Bank School to the park, the parade includes fire engines from various Lake Country area fire departments, floats, and even horses ridden by area residents.
“It’s just one of those nice, little, hometown Fourth of July celebrations,” Heup said.
To volunteer, contact the Stone Bank Lion’s Club at StoneBankLionsClub@yahoo.com