Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

4th of July Celebration returns to Zortman

 

Mark Hebert

Emma Casebolt (Montana state flag) Marie Buchfeller (American Flag) David Crasco (Fort Belknap flag) and Failt Beard (Canadian Flag) lead the 4th of July Parade in Zortman on Wednesday.

Last year's Independence Day celebration in Zortman was canceled following the "July Fire" which would go on to burn over 11,000 acres and preceded a summer of drought and extreme heat.

Last Wednesday, the celebration returned to the tiny town and was welcomed by all.

"It's good to be out here today," Michael Nagel said. Nagel and Derek Oshio spent much of last July 3 trying to combat the fire that broke out near Alder Gulch. By July 6, mandatory evacuations were ordered and at one point, nearly 500 personnel were working the fire. The July 4th Celebration, which started 42 years ago in Zortman, was the furthest thing from many resident's minds last years.

This year, however, people were back in force for the celebration which started off like it always does, with the parade down Whitcomb Street. Spectators lined themselves on either side of the dirt road as parade entrants lined up at the mining building.

The Negal and Oshio families have spent at least the last 14 years sitting in the same spot to watch the parade and collect candy (in front of the Lori Negal place is that location, which was destroyed by fire in June of 2016, but has been rebuilt and is looking better than ever.) Aside from the parade and the candy, the families were also looking forward to a hike later in the day and, of course, the grand finale of the celebration.

"I like the fireworks," Izzy Oshio said. "They are cool because they pop up."

Adelle Payne has been coming to the Zortman 4th of July celebration for at least the last 14 years - many of them aboard a horse heading up the parade, occasionally as a flag bearer - and she was happy to be back in town last Wednesday.

"I am so thankful that we don't have a fire, it was terrible last year," she said.

Mark Hebert

L to R: Michael Negel, Alex Oshio, Dre Oshio, Gabe Oshio , Kandace Oshio, Izzy Oshio, Derek Oshio, Carol Azure and Steve Nagel wait for the start of the Fourth of July parade in Zortman.

Mike Wlodkowski said he missed the first couple of parades held in Zortman but figured he has been to at least the last 35. On Wednesday morning, Wlodkowski was charged with getting parade floats lined up and ready to roll.

"It's nice to have everybody out here together again," he said. "We just couldn't have the event last year. This year, I don't know how many people are here for the parade, and some years we have more people in the parade than out here watching, but as long as we are all out here I am happy."

Approximately 50 people in a dozen different floats, horses, and four-wheelers paraded down Whitcomb Street and people from far and near - including Smokey The Bear and Richard Peterson (AKA the Montana Hitchhiker) - and the rest of the day included kid's games at the Buckhorn Park, a roasted pig potluck at the Miner's Club, a horseshoe tournament and, of course, fireworks.

 

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