Centennial Celebration

PARSHALL Orange ribbon cordoned off Main Street in downtown Parshall from First Avenue Southeast to First Avenue Northeast Saturday to allow for hundreds of people to line the sidewalks with their lawn chairs and take in a parade and other festivities in celebration of the city’s centennial. The event continues today.

Following the parade at 10 a.m. was an ice cream social hosted by the local Catholic church and music and other entertainment presented at the intersection of Central Avenue and Main Street throughout the day. A special classic car show was also featured at the north end of Main Street.

The celebration began Friday when a 25-year time capsule was opened to reveal old newspapers, fashions and other memorabilia and both past and future alumni of Parshall High School reunited in town.

“Everybody who has graduated from Parshall High School was invited to come back this weekend to celebrate Parshall’s all-school reunion and their 100th celebration,” said Rena Rustad of the class of 1984. “Last night they had a decades prom so anyone could go to the prom. They had people there from the 1950s, the 1960s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s and even kids who are going to be graduating in the 2000-teens and ’20s, they went to some prom dates. It was so cute.”

The classes participated in several events for all but then were also left to their own devices to organize and participate in activities with just those classes they graduated with, if they wish.

The American Legion Post 121 served as a sort of headquarters for the day’s events. In one corner people pursued the artifacts from the time capsule packed during the city’s 75th anniversary jubilee. Wade Williamson found a blue City of Parshall hat he had placed in the capsule all those years ago when he served as the city’s mayor, but the foam lining had long since crumbled away despite the charcoal and burlap sacks included at the bottom to moderate the humidity.

Resident Jewell Grove took particular interest in the old newspapers included in the display. Picking one up he talked about how he had forgotten how large broadsheet newspapers had been back then, remarking that today’s newspapers are probably only two-thirds the width.

“I remember that,” Grove said as he flipped the paper over to reveal a photo and headline that read “Drilling for Oil on Nordquist Farmland.”

“It was working for a bit but then they shut it down,” he said of the oil find, adding that modern fracking hadn’t been the normal drilling method then.

Karen Jorgenson, a member of the Centennial planning board, said that she sees new faces every day now whether at the grocery store, the gas station or just walking down the street. While only at the cusp of the area the energy industry is making over in western North Dakota so prevalent even 20 minutes west in New Town the changes are felt in Parshall.

She describes Parshall as a city in transition and can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like in its bicentennial year, 2114, or even when the time capsule filled Saturday by town residents is opened in 2039.

It’s still a town she knows and loves, though. Other staff members of the day’s celebrations kept asking her where supplies were and updating her on a little crisis they were having regarding a later event. She’s used to the bustle because she’s usually volunteering for city events and councils including the cemetery and Paul Broste Rock Museum boards.

The much-hyped museum was celebrating the 50th anniversary since being built by hand by Broste with rocks and boulders found within a 20-mile radius of Parshall.

It had celebrated its 40th anniversery only eight years ago but Doris Jacobson, who has curated the museum since then, said that the last anniversery marked the museum’s opening to the public rather than its building date but celebrating now along with the City of Parshall, which owns the museum, was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Several families and couples eagerly took in Jacobson’s stories of Broste’s accomplishments and interests, including building balanced “trees” with old farm machinery parts and rock spheres he carved himself by first fashioning into a cube and then cutting the corners in a home-made carver until the rocks became “like the Earth, infinite, without beginning or end.”

After a visit to the museum visitors can walk the six blocks or so south past Parshall High School and down tree-lined residential streets to take in the the entertainment on Main Street which included a short play featuring bounty hunters attempting to take in some fugitives in the old wild west, a jazz band and a military band.

There was also a military appreciation ceremony featuring Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk to honor North Dakota veterans past and present.

Watford City will be celebrating its centennial next weekend, starting with a parade at 9:15 a.m. Friday.