The Swiss Wine Festival is many things to many people; but the recently completed four day event has always been a celebration of the community’s heritage and history.
For those who were watching closely at Saturday morning’s Grand Festival Parade, a unique bit of history walked by.
In fact, it led the way.
As this year’s parade kicked off, leading the way were sisters Lorna Clark Rodgers from Versailles and Ronda Clark Musuraca from Greenville, South Carolina. They were carrying the banner announcing the beginning of the festival parade.
Just like they did 51 years ago.
“We carried one for the VFW in Aurora and the American Legion in Lawrenceburg.” Lorna said. “They had Peggy the Flying Red Horse in the parade that year, which they’ve got displayed in their showcase down there now. My brother actually rode on that that day, he was behind us.”
The sisters grew up in Aurora, and their father, James Clark, was a veteran who served in the Philippines and later was a member of both the VFW and Legion. He got the girls the responsibility of carrying the banner.
“My sister was 14, getting ready to turn 15; and I was 12 getting ready to turn 13,” Lorna said.
So what makes the sisters want to come back more than a half century later?
“Well, it’s hard to believe, but I work construction, and I happened to be working in East Enterprise last year. I work with Dave O’Mara, and we were building a sewer plant there,” Lorna said. “We went into the grocery store there for lunch, and I saw a brochure on the counter that ‘50 year celebration’. I said, ‘oh my gosh, it’s been 50 years’, so I called my sister. I thought I’d call the number and talk to somebody and let them know that we carried the banner 50 years ago.”
Lorna said that Ronda was excited and wanted to come and carry the banner last year, but prior commitments back home in South Carolina made a trip to the 2018 festival impossible — so plans were made for 2019.
“I told Marylee (Parade Director Marylee Tolbert) that I really didn’t want to do it without her, so I said maybe next year; and Marylee told me that she was going to keep my number and call me next year and make sure in time so we could make our arrangements.”
Lorna said that she and Ronda reprised their duties in honor of their late mother, Lynetta.
“She was a very patriotic person,” Lorna said. “She made the banner that we carried. Also that year, our mother was behind us, behind the Color Guard driving the Cadillac that she and my dad owned. It had a flag draped over the Cadillac that had bullet holes and the blood of a Civil War soldier who died carrying that flag. Governor Branigan (Indiana Governor Roger Branigan) was riding in the car with her.”
Lorna said that she and Ronda had their picture taken with Governor Branigan that year, and she tried without success to find the photo in time to bring it with her for Saturday’s parade.
Lorna said that the sisters were in a total of five parades back in 1968;but the parades ended after their mother was hit by a train the following year. Their father passed away about five years ago.
“We didn’t lead any other of the parades that year,” Lorna said. “We were in the parades, but the Wine Festival was the only parade that we got to lead — the very first Wine Festival parade.
“We were excited to get to do it,” Lorna continued. “Even on Saturday after we did it, we felt really privileged that we got to be a part of that and do it again after all these years. My mother would have just been so excited.”