GERING — Oregon Trail Days continued Saturday, July 13 offering several events and activities for the community. Despite the warm temperatures Saturday morning, people of all ages lined Gering’s 10th Street to watch floats and vehicles travel down the street in the Oregon Trail Days Parade.

The parade featured floats and vehicles from local businesses and organizations throughout the county, including the Gering Fire Department’s display of several engines to horse-drawn wagons and longhorns showcasing the importance of pioneers and agriculture in our communities. This year’s theme was “Oregon Trail Days: Honestly, It’s for Everyone.”

The parade is a highlight of the weekend festivities and has become a family tradition for many, including Charlie Martinez and her children.

“We like making memories every year,” Martinez said. “The older they get, the more they remember from the previous year.” Every year the Martinez’s arrive an hour before the parade to find their location. This year, they sat at the northeast corner of R Street and 10th Street. Martinez said they chose the location because it’s close to where the parade begins and they can easily get out afterward.

As they continue a weekend of family fun, Martinez is comforted by the community atmosphere of Gering.

“I like the small town feel that you get to do this stuff and not have to worry about big city things,” she said. “I like that our town is very trusting and that everyone knows each other and we can say hi and no one judges you.”

Following the parade, they continued their family day with a visit to the craft show and had a picnic in the park.

The Martinez family was not the only one to arrive early to the parade. Many families found their spot in the shade by the courthouse or under an umbrella.

To stay cool in the heat, Ella Strom, of Gering, enjoyed a strawberry smoothie from McDonald’s as she sat on the curb in front of the courthouse.

“I like to spend time with my family,” Strom said.

While she recently moved to the area and said she is excited to see what Oregon Trail Days is about, she has seen the parade before.

“I’ve seen the parade before, but each time they change something,” she said.

As she awaited for the procession to travel down 10th Street, BraeLynn Lloyd of Gering ate Krabby Patties.

“I like that some parades throw candy,” Lloyd said. “I like bubble gum.”

Miss Old West Balloon Fest Nikki Catrina-Anderson and Miss Scotts Bluff County Sheridan Blanco made an appearance in the parade.

Gov. Pete Ricketts also walked in the parade, greeting community members and wishing everyone a happy Oregon Trail Days. During Ricketts’ walk, he approached Zayden and Alexis Holten and gave them a high-five.

“It was cool,” Zayden said.

Zayden said it was nice of Ricketts to come over to him and say hi.

The Gering High School and Junior High marching bands, under the direction of Ben Veilleux, were part of the parade. The high school band has marched in the OTD parade for several years.

Saturday afternoon, the community enjoyed several activities from the 33rd annual Nebraska state championship CASI chili cook-off, horseshoe tournament and music festival.

The 98th annual Oregon Trail Days concludes Sunday with the OTD Panhandle Quilt Show from noon to 5 p.m. and the Gospel Jubilee featuring The Hebberts and other special guests at 7 p.m at Legion Park.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.