Outside Looking In
I've always been able to speak in front of a crowd without getting nervous, but I always fidget and am unsure what to say when receiving an award or even a compliment. My parents always encouraged me to show more appreciation, but my problem has always been that someone likely deserves it more and that makes me uncomfortable.
It's not that I am trying to be humble. I honestly have always thought there is someone out there that can what I do better, whether it's writing, speaking, singing or dancing.
My daughter, who inherited my smart-alec sense of humor, had her usual wry response when I told her the news. "Why, did everyone else already take their turn?"
So, when I was asked to be the Grand Marshal for this year's Boxelder Bug Days parade, I immediately felt that someone living in Minneota, or a Minneota native, has done more for the community and deserves the honor more. Feeling it would be wrong to say "no", I accepted.
I've rubbed some people in town the wrong way over the 10 years that I've written for the Mascot, some of it my fault and some not. I've always tried to apologize to people even when I felt I should have been the recipient of the apology because it almost always seemed to quell the disagreement. Not always ... but almost.
I don't display any of the trophies or awards at my home or at the Mascot office that I have received over the years, except for my sports trophies because I truly earned those. In fact, I didn't even submit any articles or photos to the Minnesota Newspaper Contest last year, although we will this year when I was convinced the awards are more of a reflection of the newspaper than the individual.
I was honored to be chosen by the Boxelder Bug Days committee to be in the parade and the reason Scott Josephson gave me truly touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I can't thank them enough for asking me.
I grew up in Tracy and I used to watch the Box Car Days parade every year while collecting candy thrown out to the kids. The grand marshal was always someone prominent in town, or used to live in town. I will always remember longtime physician Dr. Workman leading the parade on horseback several times in his military uniform. When "Doc" passed away many years ago, he was again posthumously chosen as the parade's grand marshal. This time, though, his boots were placed backwards in the stirrups and someone led the riderless horse through the parade. It was a somber moment for those that knew him.
I didn't get to ride a horse through this year's parade, but I did get to ride in something even cooler. I was seated in style in the back of Lynn and Barb Okrina's 1956 synergy-green metallic Chevy pickup. I was proud to ride in such a classic vehicle, rather than my beat-up Chevy Blazer with over 300,000 miles on it.
I was trying to come up with something to throw to the kids besides candy because I was afraid there would be a repeat of a parade that I attended last summer in Delano when a little girl standing a few feet away from me was hit in the forehead by a sucker and screamed as blood trickled down her face.
I did end up throwing candy and I don't think I maimed anyone. And even though I came prepared for a few tomatoes or jeers thrown my way, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and can say I am proud to be associated with such a wonderful community.
Thank you to the Okrinas for allowing me to ride in style. And thank you to the Boxelder Bug Days committee for choosing me to be your grand marshal, even if it might have been because everyone had already taken their turn.
I have to admit that I've become a bit of a Ezequiel "Zeke" Monzon fan for his positive attitude and infectious smile during his two battles with cancer.
After his first bout three years ago, he came back and pulled off a couple of upset in the Section 3A wrestling tournament three years ago even though he didn't qualify for state.
After a second battle two years ago, Zeke is back playing football and got his first varsity carry of the season in the fourth quarter of a lopsided win against Yellow Medicine East. Unfortunately, that play was whistled dead when YME was offsides.
On the ensuing play, Zeke got the call again on second down and goal from the three-yard line. Lined up on the ride side of the line as a wingback, he motioned across to the left, took the handoff from backup quarterback Ryan Dalager, utilized his speed, and scampered into the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
I've written several stories during Zeke's battles and each time I was impressed with his faith and positivity. When I am driving through Ghent and I have time, I stop at his home and bring him and/or his family treats. I've gotten to know his parents and they are both always appreciative of the support and gifts from others.
Zeke was always my hero. His touchdown only solidifies that.
Way to go, Zeke!