"How old do you have to be to be historical?" asked Ed Simon, the former mayor of Ketchum, during the coronation of the Heritage Court Sunday afternoon. "Over 50, apparently."
His answer amused the mostly-over-50 audience, who had probably never thought to use that word to describe themselves. But the ladies who were being honored are living history.
Idaho's Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter summed it up in his letter of commendation to the four Heritage Court ladies.
"You truly are Idaho gems," he said. "A living thread in the fabric of our history."
Presented for the fourth year running by the Blaine County Historical Museum, the Heritage Court honors a quartet of local ladies for their longevity in and commitment to their respective towns.
With a combined total of nearly 300 years living in the Wood River Valley, these ladies have seen a lot of history pass through their towns.
Petra Morrison, 82, was nominated by the Ketchum-Sun Valley Rotary Club and represents both Sun Valley and Ketchum. Representing Hailey, Rose Mallory, 80, was nominated by the Hailey Rotary. The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce nominated Ora Lee Disbennett, 75, to represent Bellevue. In Carey, Bonnie Justesen, 75, was nominated by the Carey Senior Center.
At last weekend's event, held at The Liberty Theatre in Hailey, each lady was officially crowned and given a plaque to commemorate the event, as well as bouquet of flowers.
Those expecting a sedate affair were a little surprised. "This is the youngest overall Heritage Court we have had to date," said Heritage Court Chairwoman Laura Hall. The honorees took to the stage with a youthful spring in their step—the city's mayors who were escorting them had a hard time keeping up.
Mallory gave master of ceremonies Chris Millspaugh some sass when he graciously informed her that she is an amazing woman.
"I know," was her tart response. She then turned her advice on the audience, informing them, "You young people need to slow down a bit, you can't do it all."
Not to be outdone, Disbennett was proud to relive her prowess as Bellevue High's star basketball player.
"I was mean, I was rough and I was fast," she said.
These shinning beacons of the benefits of south-central Idaho living clearly deserve their moment in the spotlight.
"This afternoon is all about the ladies," said Hall.
As such, a bevy of entertainment was provided to honor the Heritage Court. Two dancers from the Footlight Dance Centre performed selections from "Cinderella," the Company of Fools previewed their new show "Spitfire Grill," and Cindra Walbert and Dorinda Rendahl serenaded the court with a selection of "Music for our Ladies."
The ladies have a busy summer ahead of them. They will be presented to their respective communities in a vintage carriage during Hailey's Days of the Old West Fourth of July Parade, Carey's Pioneer Days Parade, Ketchum's Big Hitch Wagon Days Parade and Bellevue's Labor Day Parade.