By Brad Mosher
The annual Wheat Harvest Jamboree was a success in New England, but the biggest winner may have been the Amidon Fire Department.
The firefighters won the top prize at the Parade of Lights for the second straight year.
The winning “float” had several parts to it, including a piece of firefighting equipment which was more than a century old.
But what drew the most attention – and laughs – was the fact they had a half-dozen firemen appear to be chasing a burning outhouse on a trailer down Main Street in New England with a man still inside the outhouse almost hidden by smoke and flames.
The AFD had Ernie Holzmer riding on top of a commode inside the outhouse the entire way, quietly shouting for “help” from the smoky stall while being “chased” by Amidon firemen pulling a hand pumper which was more than a century old.
According to Len Sadler, the idea for the fiery float started coming together a couple of months ago, with Joe Miller having a lot of input. “He has that kind of sense of humor.
“They wanted to have the old pumper in the parade. That company went out of business about 1914 when the trucks became big enough so that is at least from the early 1900s,” he said. “The burning outhouse was just a brainstorm of Joe’s.”
Amidon chief Dick Fredrick said he was glad people enjoyed the float. “That was why we were doing it.
“We actually started kicking the idea around in the early spring,” Fredrick said. “We were just sitting around, just kicking the ideas around. I am not sure what the beginning was because it was an evolving thing. It started with wanting to use an outhouse and just kind of worked on it (the idea) a little bit.”
Fredrick said that Holzmer got volunteered for the hot seat. “He was a little reluctant, but we finally talked him into it. He had done that running down the street before and wasn’t interested in doing it again.”
The fire department borrowed a smoke machine from the Bowman fire department to provide the smoke for the outhouse, the chief explained.
It was the second straight winning float for the Amidon crew. “(Last year) it was the Amidon Fire Department and Swift Water Rescue (boat). We try to make it fun,” he said.
In the parade, the New England Booster Club finished second, while the FFA float was third, according to the judges.
A year ago, the Amidon float was able to be in parades in Rhame and Bowman, but this year the fire department could only have the float at New England. “The weather backed up everybody’s agricultural work up so bad, there wasn’t time to make it to Rhame or Bowman.”
Fredrick admitted the firefighters face a challenge to come up with something for the town’s centennial celebration next year. “We’ll come up with something,” he added with a chuckle. “We have fertile imaginations.”
The Amidon crew involved in the parade were Chief Fredrick along with firefighters Joe Miller, Chad Erickson, Kyle Homelvig, Lyndsey Erickson, Chad Erickson, Chase Fairbanks, Cassidy Fairbanks, Lane Hall, Ernie Hozlmer, Tom Juntunen and Loren (Shakey Jake) Jacobson.
The annual celebration started Friday afternoon with a Top Line All Wheels Car Show at Riverside Park and had a bonfire there to close out the evening.
Over the weekend, the city also had several food trucks and food booths throughout downtown,
offering everything from pies and ice cream in the senior center, egg rolls and pizza slices at other places. At Lions Park, there was Burgers in the Park as well as a Filipino food booth.
After Saturday’s parade, there was a concert.
The weekend ended with a kids rodeo at the Riverside Park rodeo arena.