By Robert Medley
[See slideshow at the end of the story.]
As the sirens of the fire trucks wailed to the west, hundreds of people lined Yukon’s Main Street Saturday morning under overcast skies near the Yukon’s Best flour mill.
It was the 54th time for the Czech Festival along Main Street, also State Highway 66, and Czech heritage was ready to be on display with kolaches, polka, dancing and a carnival.
Before the parade vehicles started to progress eastward, Sheila and Scott Spangler were outside their business giving away coffee, donuts and water and taking money to help people who need healthcare.
Money was being collected for the Trinity Baptist Church “Faith Clinic,” a Tuesday night program that provides medical and health assistance to people without insurance. The booth was set up outside the Spangler’s business Air Flow Technologies.
Tom Tyler, Air Flow sales manager, said the Czech Festival was a chance to help those in need.
“We’ve been doing this for five years now and we set up a little booth right here and we give away free coffee, water and donuts. And if people want to donate, we have a little donation jar here for our free clinic that we support through Trinity Baptist Church. It’s there on Tuesdays,” Tyler said.
The jar quickly filled up as people walked by the booth along the parade route.
“People are generous and they donate money to us and we give it to the church. We feel this is like a community give-back type program. We love the community and we were born right here in Yukon so we really like to give it back. It’s lots of fun,” Tyler said.
Two of the parade volunteers, Jyle Jedlicka and Greg Carlisle, sported their bright yellow official festival T-shirts as the parade started.
Jedlicka is of Czech lineage.
“It’s always a fun time at the Czech Festival,” Jedlicka said. “We’re hoping for great weather and a very good parade, with lots of turnout.”
Jedlicka said festival organizers anticipated between 50,000 to 60,000 people would attend Saturday.
Skies were still cloudy as the emergency vehicles from local first responders led the parade.
The Yukon High School Band and others in the parade waved at the crowds and a sheriff’s office deputy tossed candy.
Darrell Nemecek showed off his Czech side. Nemecek wore a black vest with a red shirt. One button on his vest read, “Keep Calm and Polka On.”
As John Parizek and others sold festival mainstays, the kolache pastries, polka music poured from inside the Oklahoma Czech building. The carnival and food booths were busy.
And then the sun made an appearance before noon.
Festival coordinator Marjorie Jezek appreciated the blue skies as clouds went away.
“The sun has come out. And if the wind dies down it will really help. But it’s really nice!” said Jezek, president of Oklahoma Czechs Inc.
Events continued Saturday afternoon and into the early evening with the Czech-Slovak Royalty Coronation Ball at Yukon Czech Hall.
New Oklahoma-Czech Slovak Royalty are:
Queen Emily Cole of Oklahoma City, Junior Queen Kinzey Shirazi of Edmond, Prince Conner Imhoff of Sparks, and Princess Lola Mae Yanda of Yukon.