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  • Last modified 34 days ago (Sept. 17, 2020)

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In the spirit
of Old Settlers

Attention Marion High School graduates from years ending in zero and five: This year’s normal Old Settlers Day may have been canceled, but even if you can’t ride in a traditional parade or lunch as usual with classmates in Central Park, you still can have reunions.

Some may try — hopefully with a much greater emphasis on community safety than we have seen in recent weeks — to work around COVID-19 restrictions and have in-person reunions.

Others, aware that traveling to Kansas might subject class members to 14-day quarantines when they return home, still will have an opportunity to reunite virtually.

Marion’s biggest businesses and Old Settlers Day’s official sponsor, Kiwanis, rightly have declined to schedule large-scale events this year.

A small group of smaller local businesses plan limited activities, and we at the newspaper hope classes and businesses will cooperate in an attempt to produce a special Virtual Old Settlers Day edition of our paper next week.

We’re extending an open invitation to all classes to send us information about any events — in person or otherwise — they have planned. More important, we’re asking them to share, just as they might if they were to meet in person, news about class members and anecdotes and remembrances about their time in school.

We’ve already started gathering information for profiles of some of the more interesting graduates. We’ve been collecting anecdotes about such things as sports accomplishments and class valedictorians. And we’re gathering historical tidbits about Old Settlers Day itself. We’ve even received permission, courtesy of Marion Historical Museum, to republish original class photos and other historical items.

Our goal is to produce what amounts to an updated high school yearbook of sorts for classes that would have been honored at this year’s Old Settlers Day. We hope to create a worthy keepsake for them and others in the community with fond memories of those classes.

How much we’re able to do will depend on you. We need information from each class and are asking, without the aid of parade registrations to guide us to the appropriate people, for the people who would have been reunion organizers to contact us directly at (620) 382-2165, news@marionrecord.com, or 117 S. 3rd St., Marion KS 66861.

We also are hoping that community institutions will help underwrite the cost of the virtual celebration via sponsorships or advertising within the keepsake pages we are able to produce.

We envision anything from a complete magazine-style section, featuring class photos of every graduate along with numerous feature stories, all the way down to a page or two of coverage, like that in a traditional weekly focus section.

How much we’ll be able to produce will depend on how much cooperation we receive from the classes themselves and on the financial support we receive for the project from local sponsors and advertisers.

We want to encourage local residents to participate — safely, with face masks and social distancing — in the smaller events that a small group of a few local businesses plan. But for the mass observance of Old Settlers Day, we’re hopeful we can do by virtual means, within the pages of this paper, most of the socializing that makes our community’s signature annual celebration a beloved tradition.

Honoring shared history is vital to the long-term health of any community. Adjusting to the pandemic and keeping traditions alive by whatever means possible would honor the pioneer spirit of our community’s original old settlers, who had to overcome many similar obstacles in establishing our community.

Let’s do it safely, without creating some “super-spreader” event that forces us into a renewed lock-down like the one Israel this week announced, in which residents are forbidden to venture more than three-eighths of a mile from their homes.

Proudly share your information and your community spirit by promoting next week’s special Virtual Old Settlers Day edition. Will it be the “best ever,” as we traditionally label each Old Settlers Day celebration? With your help, it might come close.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Sept. 17, 2020

 

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