Monday, June 29, 2009

View From The Bridge

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
by Muncie Morger
View from the Bridge Editor

If you did not read last weeks River Press, you will not understand that Editor title above. Go back and check it out.

In a small town, here is how news travels. Ruth Carlstrom had arranged for volunteers at the Visitors Center to take a community bus ride. We visited the Chamber members businesses where Visitors can spend the night or longer. Larry Lundquist was our bus driver and he told us that there was a grizzly bear on the Teton River just outside Fort Benton. I relayed the information to Kathy at the River Press and scooped Tim again (the real editor.) I then called Karla Ayers (my friend and member of our Writers Group) to find out what she knew, as she lives along the Teton. Karla said that the four to five year old grizzly was in her back yard on Sunday evening. Her daughter had presence of mind to take a couple of pictures, which Karla was going to send to the River Press. The bear had now moved on toward Loma. Jim Ayers had been notified that traps would be set on his property (just north of Karla’s) to catch the bear. He would then be transported elsewhere. Karla added that the “bear on the Teton near Fort Benton” news had been on the police scanners that evening and on the Sheriff’s report this morning (Monday) on the radio. You readers will have a full story from Tim but just remember that I heard and reported it first.

Well, it is over for another year and in my opinion, it was the best yet. Everyone that I conversed with said the same. There could not have been better weather all three days. Everything seemed to go smoothly but as usual, not enough time to get to all the events. That was so, if you had volunteered to help with any of the scheduled programs. None of the figures are in yet but there seemed to be crowds of people everywhere. I would venture a guess of about 5,000.

The Hibernians came to town in their bus from Great Falls and we enjoyed their visit and programs as much as they enjoyed Fort Benton. Those of us who were involved with their programs such as the mock trial of Thomas Francis Meagher on Friday evening, the Parade on Saturday morning, the dinner on Saturday evening (outstanding,) and the dedication on Sunday afternoon were so well organized and made an impact on all who attended.
The Parade was very special too. It is one of the best parades around this area because there are the Old Faithful participants and many new ones. There was lots of candy throwing which thrilled the little Munchkins. The Irish theme went over very big and we especially enjoyed the young Irish dancers, the Baton Twirlers, and the Irish Washer Women. Of course, we were happy to see “Monty” the Griz mascot but felt sympathy for him in that hot suit while doing the acrobatics. Wish we had some of that energy.

Those of us, who attended the Hibernians dinner on Saturday evening, were treated to entertainment by Jack Kelly’s singing, The Irish Community Dancers from Helena (the young girls,) Ashling Lady Dancers from Anaconda (the senior women,) and the Shamrockers. The Ashling Lady Dancers were also the Irish Washer Women in the Parade. During their performance at the dinner, they did an audience participation dance which was such fun to watch. They first showed how to do the dance and then went into the audience and picked partners. Lt. Governor John Bohlinger and the Immaculate Conception Church’s new pastor, Father Leo McDowell were pulled into the circle and looked as though they had done it all their lives.
There was a good variety of vendor products at Art in the Park and the food vendors outdid themselves. There were some long lines but there was great entertainment to listen to while you waited. The food at the Pot Luck Supper was also so appetizing (the Sunrise Bluffs huge bowl of potato salad,) and the Pie Auction was tremendous success. Last year there were a grand total of 49 pies and this year there were 51 pies in the competition auction and 1 donated. The Visitors Information Center had hundreds of Visitors stop by and pick up maps and literature. The Fun Run is a big attraction and I loved their t-shirts. I am sorry if I have not mentioned everything that was happening but that was the problem. There was so much going on it was difficult to keep up.
At the Dedication on Sunday afternoon, I met by chance Sara-Jane Gruetzner who is president and CEO of Fort Calgary. On her card was a picture of the cutest little boy looking up at a Royal Mounted Policeman. On that card was written, “Connecting Yesterday to Tomorrow.” It was very similar to the saying I have on my computer cabinet door that reads, “A People Without a History is Like the Wind in the Buffalo Grass.” Another favorite of mine is, “If You Don’t Know Where You Came From, You Can’t Know Where You Are Going.” Sara-Jane and I discussed the Calgary Fiddlers and their two trips to Fort Benton. Perhaps we could have them back again soon.
Awesome! What else can you say? Everyone around us “oohed and ahed” through the whole show. There was a five-year-old sitting near us with his younger sister. We overheard him saying when the huge ending was in progress, “Isn’t America beautiful.” Out of the mouths of babes….“Isn’t America beautiful.”

Connie, it was fantastic and how do you do it? She promised that waterfall and it came off just as planned. A surprise was the firework that skipped down the Missouri. Was it supposed to do that?

With all their other work this past week, the City Crew managed to set in place the Bill Anderson Memorial tables with one near the Old Fire Hall and the other between the Grand Union and Shep. There was another bench installed at the Tennis Court (hope that one is enjoyed as it is in the shade of two trees.) Another is in Paddlewheel Park that completes that area with benches in three corners and a table with cover in the other corner. The other three tables and four benches will be installed soon so look for them and remember those that they are memorialized for. I think that I mentioned before that is the end for the Memorial bench program and leaves only the table program open for further placement. A good reason for the table program is that the City Crew can mow around them. The wooden benches have to be moved and that is a bothersome job for one person.

I would very much like someone to step forward and apprentice with me to take over the project. It is actually a very rewarding project when you see the benches and tables being used, but I need to retire.

The Mandan is in very bad shape. The mast is about to fall in because the bottom of the boat is rotten and cannot support the weight of the mast. There are plans in progress to begin work on it in September. If that is a project that interests you, give me a call and I will connect you to the right Committee. I believe that the last time the boat was worked on and painted was about fifteen years ago.

The lighting of the Old Bridge will be concentrated on now as Randy Morger found himself at the C.C.P.A. booth at Art on the Levee instead of starting his project. I urge you to buy your seasons tickets a.s.a.p. because the Board needs a little money to get things started…like seed money. They are bringing great entertainment in for the next season and it is such a bargain. You cannot go to a movie today for that price. I realize the economy is down and everyone is a little short on cash these days. Try to realize though, you need some entertainment in your life…a little get away into a happier world, and C.C.P.A. can take you there. I will give you more details on the lighting project soon.

Another project on the move is the painting of the side rails on the Old Bridge. Someone said to me when I mentioned it that the whole bridge should be painted. That would make it a very big project and thinking about that would make painting the side rails a small job. Just kidding Gail Stensland, I know what a huge job it would be as I tired it several years ago. Any help would be appreciated…like someone who has thousands they do not know what to do with.
All of these committees would like to have these projects completed because of the Mullen Road Conference on the 21st and 22nd of May, 2010. Keep that on your calendar because again we will have many visitors and guests in town. I know that Ken Robison will come up with some great research articles on the Mullen Road as he does with all other events.

I am so sure that everyone who had anything to do with Summer Celebration or the Hibernians events, went home for a nap on Sunday late afternoon when everyone left. That should give you a nice rest so you can start planning next years Summer Celebration on Monday morning. Frankly, I have no idea how you can come up with something better next year…but you will.

All I can say now is, “Isn’t America beautiful.”