After more than a year in near lockdown conditions, the streets of Williams were bustling on Saturday.
The 49th Pioneer Day Parade was the first large public event to be held in the city since March of 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began.
“It (was) good to see a good crowd and a good turnout,” said Bruce Rolen, parade announcer.
This year’s parade honored all the “Hometown Heroes” of the pandemic. Floats and decorated vehicles recognized the men and women of the armed forces, law enforcement, garage workers, medical first responders, agriculture workers, and many others. The Backpage Podcast fastened a mirror to the side of their float with the words “Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.”
For the first time, Citizens for a Better Williams offered large cash prizes for the best entrees.
Little Keegan Collins, driving a mini-police car, won the $300 first place prize; the Ramirez Family float won $200; and the Garage Fitness and Nutrition won the $100 third place prize. The Williams Volunteer Fire Department won an honorable mention with their State Capitol float.
The Colusa VFW and Maxwell American Legion Color Guard led the parade, followed by a large contingency of police and fire vehicles from across Colusa County.
CBW also recognized one of their own, as former President Andi Armstrong rode through the parade in a red convertible as Grand Marshal.
Armstrong is a charter member of the organization that was formed to make Williams a better place for all residents. She served on the Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees for 20 years, and brought the Every 15 Minute program to Williams.
She has also been responsible for many of the fundraisers for CBW, and for seeing that a hero’s welcome was waiting for Alejandro Jauregui, Juan Loza, and Amanda Plachek when they returned from serving in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
“This young lady has done so much for our community over the years, from school board to CBW to Every 15 Minutes, an alcohol awareness and DUI program” Rolen said. “She has been an example for our community for everything.”
Following the parade, Pioneer Day continued at Redinger Park where nearly two dozen vendors offered food, goods, and information.
The Vendor Fair was a fundraiser for Karen’s House, a domestic violence program named in honor of the late Karen Garcia, who was abused and then murdered by a jealous boyfriend.
Founder Tootie Hackett said the services provided by Karen’s House, which include connecting victims with temporary shelter, resources, food and clothing, counseling, court advocates, and referrals for emergency services, didn’t slow in the least during the pandemic, although fundraising opportunities did.
“We’ve been busy, so it’s good to be back,” Hackett said.
Saturday’s Pioneer Day also served as Williams High School alumni weekend. Graduates from various classes toured recent renovations at the gym and held a memorial planting for Steve Tuttle, Class of 1966.
The Sacramento Valley Museum was also open during Pioneer Day and received a number of new and out-of-town visitors on Saturday.
Pioneer Day festivities concluded with a fireworks display, sponsored by Morning Star.