By Conrad Dudderar
A parade featuring 111 entries will traverse downtown Yukon this Saturday to highlight the city’s epic Czech heritage celebration.
Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. will present the 56th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival Oct. 1 in Yukon, the “Czech Capital of Oklahoma.”
Thousands of people will line both sides of Main Street for the traditional parade. The parade route will start at Garth Brooks Boulevard and proceed east to Third Street.
“The festival brings a lot of attention to the Czechs and their heritage,” said Yukon’s Jaime Olvera, the Oklahoma Czechs’ parade chairman. “And for Yukon, it brings many thousands of visitors to our town.
“I hope everyone has a good time at the parade. I’ve been looking forward to running it again.”
The Yukon High School marching band will kick off Saturday’s parade promptly at 10 a.m., with emergency responders following.
“Our artillery cannon group couldn’t make it this year,” Olvera reported.
Among parade highlights will be royalty winners from Prague (Okla.)’s Kolache Festival, South Dakota’s Taber Czech Days and Nebraska’s Miss-Czech Slovak US Pageant.
In addition, the reigning Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty and this year’s royalty contestants will be featured.
The crowd will see members of Oklahoma Czechs, led by longtime president/festival coordinator Marjorie Jezek, along with parade grand marshal Natalie Jasinski and the Oklahoma Czech Folk Dancers.
Other parade favorites returning this Saturday will be Yukon school groups, Yukon Fire, Yukon Police, Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, civic clubs, local businesses, motorcycles, Jeeps, and classic cars.
“We’ll have the Yukon Cheer Squad, Pom Squad, Student Council, Partners Club, FCCLA, and almost all the sports teams,” said Olvera, in his second year as parade chairman.
And, of course, no Czech Day parade would be complete without the Shriners and some politicians.
“It’s going to be a good variety of groups,” Olvera added.
Fox 25 News anchors Dan Snyder and Wendy Suares will announce parade entries from the main stage at Fifth and Main. This year, Josh Calhoun also will introduce participants from a second announcing platform in front of Sonic at 729 W Main.
The pressure will be on 2022 Oklahoma Czech Day parade judges Gloria Olvera, Rob O’Hara and Susan O’Hara. They face the tough task of choosing winners in three categories – youth, adult and commercial – from among the many entries.
Parade winners will be announced about 4 p.m. Saturday outside the Oklahoma Czechs Building, 5th and Cedar.
YUKON’S LARGEST EVENT
The annual Oklahoma Czech Festival, which started in October 1966, is Yukon’s largest special event.
Oklahoma Czechs, Inc.’s mission is to preserve the precious traditions and customs of the Czech people, handed down from generation to generation.
Besides Saturday morning’s parade, Yukon Czech Day with feature Czech music and dancing, crowning of 2022-23 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak royalty, carnival and midway games, arts and crafts booths, and food vendors.
Czech kolache, klobasy and souvenirs will be sold inside the Czech Building, the “festival hub”.
Historic Yukon Czech Hall, 205 N Czech Hall Road, will host a royalty coronation ball to conclude festivities Saturday night.
Music will be provided by the Masopust Polka Band and the Bohemian Knights.
Yukon’s huge Czech celebration is always the first Saturday of October.
For more information, call the festival coordinator at (405) 206-8142.