By Conrad Dudderar
A parade along Yukon’s Route 66 will mark the start of the 55th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival – just two weeks away.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to converge on downtown Yukon when Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. presents their day-long Czech heritage celebration on Oct. 2.
The parade will begin about 10 a.m. that Saturday on Main Street at Garth Brooks Boulevard, proceeding east before ending at Third Street.
Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. officials hope to have 75-100 entries featured along the parade route, with crowds lining both sides of the street.
The parade normally lasts 1-1/2-2 hours.
Volunteer Jaime Olvera of Yukon is the new Oklahoma Czech Festival parade chairman.
“There definitely will be something for everyone,” Olvera said this week. “We’ll have a very diverse group of entries.”
Among featured parade participants will be the Shriners, motorcycles, tractors, Jeeps, bands, dancers, classic cars, and Czech royalty. There will be a variety of civic and commercial floats, along with school groups, law enforcement agencies and fire departments.
Yukon Czech Day parade entries typically start lining up several hours in advance.
As the registration deadline approached, Olvera encouraged people to turn in their parade applications “to get a good spot.”
The response was slow at first but picked up in recent weeks as word spread that Yukon’s Czech Day would be back on the first Saturday in October.
“There’s still time to enter, but you better hurry!” Olvera said.
For last-minute parade entries, call the festival parade coordinator at (405) 210-0210.
Parade grand marshal will be Bernice Kolar, an avid supporter of the Oklahoma Czech Festival since its beginning in 1966. Kolar is a longtime member of the Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. kolache baking crew and volunteers at Yukon Czech Hall.
Parade winners will be announced about 4 p.m. Oct. 2 outside the Czech Building, the festival’s “hub” at Fifth and Cedar.
BACK ON THE CALENDAR
The official Oklahoma Czech Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preparations for Yukon’s Czech Day 2021 began months ago.
“We’re excited to be back on everybody’s calendar,” said Oklahoma Czechs Inc. President Marjorie Jezek, in her 16th year as festival chair. “We want to get out there and entertain people.”
Other Czech Day festivities will include a craft show, food booths, pivo garden, live Czech music and dancing, and crowning of the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty.
Although the Oklahoma Czech Festival returns Oct. 2, there won’t be a carnival or car show this year.
There will be inflatables, mechanical bull riding and pony rides by the craft booths near the Czech Building.
Oklahoma Czechs’ volunteers will offer eight flavors of that much-desired Czech pastry, kolaches, to festivalgoers. Some 2,000 dozen kolaches have been baked.
Festivities kick off Sunday, Sept. 26 as 14 contestants compete at the Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty pageant inside Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall Road. (Read more about the pageant in upcoming print and online editions)
When the Oklahoma Czech Festival was scrapped in 2020 during the coronavirus outbreak, it was the first time since its inception that Yukon hadn’t hosted the official event presented by Oklahoma Czechs, Inc.
This festival, which started in October 1966 as a celebration of Yukon’s 75th birthday, is the city’s largest event.
City of Yukon officials have requested no animals, even on leashes, at the Oct. 2nd festival.