2023 New Hope Firecracker Parade honors community leader

The Town of New Hope community held its annual Firecracker Parade July 4 along the Trout Creek Road access to the South New Hope Church. Performances assembled by volunteer members of the Tomorrow River area at large were preceded by a special appearance of a local celebrity and New Hope original.

This year’s parade “Grand Marshall” proudly rode up the parade route on Trout Creek Road to greet the parade audience with his trademark smile and grace. Herb Wolding, who marked his 110th birthday this year with a very generous gift to the Tomorrow River School District, was lauded as one of the Tomorrow River community’s most significant leaders and a New Hope community native son.

During his 110-year lifetime, he has witnessed many memorable world events. The year of his birth, 1912, the Titanic sank. Following on, the first woman took her seat in the U.S. Congress, 1917; the Model T Ford became the most popular American automobile,1908 to 1927; World War I ended, 1918; the Spanish Flu killed millions, 1918 to 1920; Roald Amundsen reached the North Pole, 1926; women secured the right to vote in the U.S., 1920; Native Americans were recognized as U.S. citizens, 1924; the first movie with sound, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolsen, 1927; penicillin was invented, 1928, and finally used in the 1940s to fight disease; the Great Depression befell the world, 1929 to 1939; World War II began and, after millions of deaths and unimaginable destruction, finally ended, 1939 to 1945; veterans returned home and the Baby Boom began, 1946 to 1964; computers, pacemakers, and dialysis technology were invented and became available; and an era of unprecedented financial prosperity began in the United States.

Herbert has said he is proud of his upbringing in New Hope, which started right near the Firecracker Parade route. He was born and raised in a house just down County T from the South New Hope Lutheran Church, where he was baptized and confirmed.

He started his successful trucking business delivering milk from Nelsonville with a single truck during the Depression. Eventually, he created his trucking company in Amherst, H.O. Wolding, and has employed hundreds of employees. Having created a successful business, created many jobs, and supported the community in a variety of ways, he recently donated $500,000 to the Tomorrow River School District for its new Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics (STEAM) addition.

At the Firecracker Parade, Wolding was presented with a special parade recognition to show the appreciation for his generous community dedication and the history he proudly shares with all of us.

Among the other performers at the parade was a neighborhood resident proudly sharing an antique tractor; bicycle-riding youth bedecked for the Fourth and showering the audience with treats; a comedy presentation by locals sporting original wit, whimsy, and wonderful audience appeal; a festive float of local families enthusiastically singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag;” and finally, a local family dressed for a Hawaiian celebration, dancing/mimicking a performance of “Rock a Hula, Baby.”

Parade attendees never know who will entertain the crowd at the parade each year, but they appreciate everyone who turns out to celebrate, either to perform or as audience. It is especially popular to bring whole families or multi-generational appearances. For this tradition to thrive, organizers are keenly aware of the need to spread youthful enthusiasm. This year was extra special with the opportunity to celebrate, recognize, and thank Herbert Wolding for all he has done to make the community a better place.

Herbert Wolding (left) was chosen as the 2023 New Hope Firecracker Parade “Grand Marshall.”

Louise Pease donned patriotic garb to participate in the Firecracker Parade.

One of the three coveted paper plate trophies was awarded to (back row, left to right) Carly Russell and Piper and Martina Smith, and (front row with plate) Emerson Smith.

Twins Lorraine Clark and Moretta Stall, long-time residents of the Town of New Hope and supporters of the Firecracker Parade (Lorraine was once crowned queen of one of the parades), were unable to attend this year’s event but celebrated at the Willows Memory Care in Iola. According to the anonymous contributor of this picture and caption, the sign between the two sisters, made for the 2022 parade (which was cancelled due to weather), honors the life and death of Bernice Strauch, last of the renowned and highly esteemed Town of New Hope elder parade judges. She was 95.

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