Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Celebrate optimism

    It always amazes us when we meet people in central Idaho who have never attended the Wagon Days celebration or who haven’t attended for many, many years. The Big Hitch Parade in Ketchum on Saturday, plus Monday’s Labor Day celebration in Bellevue, are important events because they link us with the past and signal the area’s ability to transition successfully as times change.
    They also provide opportunities to meet old friends and neighbors and to greet visitors who come to be part of it all. Not only are the events important, they’re just plain fun.
    Wagon Days celebrates the area’s historical roots in mining. Without mining, the Union Pacific Railroad would never have considered running a line up the Wood River Valley, and Railroad Chairman Averell Harriman would never have considered building the nation’s first destination ski resort in Sun Valley.
    The winter and summer recreation opportunities that grew up around the resort sustain valley residents today even as mining has receded into history. The Wagon Days celebration is always extraordinary, but it’s become a touchstone of optimism.
    To see the wagons of the Big Hitch roll down the street pulled by mules that are coordinated with a classic jerk-line driving technique honors both history and the ability of the valley’s communities to overcome challenges. The Big Hitch was once lost in cobwebs and threatened with obscurity. Today, it is the centerpiece of one of the largest non-motorized parades in the nation.
    Like the wagons, the valley has successfully rebounded from economic challenges and from the threats of smoke and wildfires in recent years. Mercifully, this year’s holiday weekend weather is predicted to be sunny and mild. It will be a great atmosphere in which to celebrate optimism for the future and what it may hold. Don’t miss it.

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