The Territorial Dispatch
September 4, 1996
The Labor Day Phenomenon
in Nicolas, California
We've heard about it for
years and years... well, six of 'em at least. One year we
were actually traveling down Highway 99 and saw all the
commotion as we went by.
Singin' John said it was
the greatest... and he's not a man that is loose with the
superlatives. So we decided this was the year.
Maybe we could catch the
phenomenon on video tape and put it up on the Internet. We
awoke to a fine morning. "Whens it start?" Steve asked.
"Oh," I said. "There's a pancake breakfast at 7 or 7:30. We
already missed that. But things are to start happening at 10
and run throughout the day."
It was a great day for a
ride. Not much traffic. Cool air. Sunshine. A made-to-order
day. We crossed the river, turned off the highway, rounded
the bend toward Nicolas and followed suit as the car ahead
of us pulled off the road to the left and parked on the edge
of a row of walnut trees along the levee. It was the sunny
side of the street, but the sun didn't seem too hot at the
People were buzzin' up
and down the road on quadrunners, carrying out preparation
duties, no doubt. A couple of youngsters came down the road
on one pulling a little trailer full of iced sodas, donuts
and hot coffee.
I bought a coffee and
asked it that was a good place to watch from. "Yep. Starts
up there," she pointed. "And goes right down through here,"
said the mom of the two kids following close behind them...
I looked the way she
pointed but saw nothing, so I went back to the truck, put
down the tailgate, drank my coffee and waited.
A turkey vulture was
riding thermals above the walnut orchard across the road. It
circled several times and then moved on as unaware of the
people scurrying to and fro below him as they were of his
motionless-wing gliding in the blue sky above.
A clean white airliner
seemed to follow Highway 99 southbound for awhile and then
veered off westward, to get into the flight pattern at
Sacramento's airport, no doubt. Then the little girls across
the road from us began to squeal. "Look!" they pointed up
the road. And it was true.
The Sixth Annual Labor
Day Parade had begun in Nicolas, California. It was great,
like John said.
Some fire engines came
first, and 4-H'rs and horses, old cars, old trucks, old
tractors, old politicians, cheerleaders, ball teams, drill
teams, a melon stand on wheels, more horses and riders,
Shriners, bands, wagons and a train.
The train was a three car
float with an engine, flatcar and caboose. I was told that
it was created by the students from East Nicolas High
School. They and their teachers should be commended... it
was really something to see. It even puffed smoke.
It was a great parade in
Nicolas... not East Nicolas, mind you... Nicolas. I suspect
that some other units entered the parade a little closer on
in to town than we were parked so I may not have taped it
all, but I have the biggest share of the event recorded
The phenomenal part of
all this is the people who came from everywhere to see this
parade. We followed the last of the parade into town. We had
to go straight when the parade turn on Marcum Road. We
stayed on the road that passes though Nicolas and goes on
around the bend and after a ways, comes to an intersection
with Highway 70 in East Nicolas.
Cars were lined bumper to
bumper (sometimes even two or three deep) along both sides
of the road almost the whole way to East Nicolas. There were
also field/parking lots, driveways and yards full of
We couldn't believe we
got the good parking place we did, so close to the edge of
town on the west side when we saw all the cars on the east
side! What a phenomenon!
There were craft and food
booths and some more entertainment but we had to head home.
So did a lot of other folks, many of whom came just for the
parade... and a little taste of Americana... small town
Maybe the American Dream
isn't dead. Maybe it's just hiding out in Nicolas,
California. Way to go! Nicolas! Keep your eye on the Yuba
Sutter Website. Steve and I want to tell the whole world
Quote of the Week ...
There must have been something so very right about
Americanism, for the days it was practiced it brought us
from thirteen undeveloped colonies to the world's
greatest-ever nation and brought Americans to new heights in
life, liberty and well-being.
&emdash;J. Kesner Kahn