Ritchey Named Grand Mar­shal For An­nual Park Fete Pa­rade

Escalon Times - - NEWS -

A cen­ter­piece of Escalon’s an­nual com­mu­nity cel­e­bra­tion, Park Fete, the Satur­day morn­ing pa­rade will step off at 11 a.m. on July 15, leav­ing from the stag­ing area on Co­ley, turn­ing on to First and then on to Main Street.

Dozens of en­tries are an­tic­i­pated, from mu­si­cal groups to danc­ing horses, youth groups to com­mu­nity ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Named this year as the Grand Mar­shal is Don Ritchey, pro­pri­etor of the Horse­less Car­riage Garage on Sec­ond Street. Fol­low­ing is in­for­ma­tion on the Grand Mar­shal, as pro­vided by the Li­ons Club, which spon­sors the Park Fete cel­e­bra­tion.

Don Ritchey was raised just out­side of Escalon, where his fam­ily owned a farm. He spent his high school years work­ing at that farm, and upon grad­u­at­ing from Escalon High in 1951, de­cided to try a new path as a plumb­ing and steam­fit­ter ap­pren­tice. That led to a long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer man­ag­ing projects for a me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing firm, where he su­per­vised con­struc­tion of many fa­cil­i­ties across the United States. He also was a de­signer of other projects, and he fi­nally re­tired at age 80 af­ter 63 years in the field.

Af­ter 40 years of be­long­ing to the Horse­less Car­riage Club of Amer­ica, a club ded­i­cated to the preser­va­tion of our ear­li­est au­to­mo­biles, those built be­fore 1916, Don had a unique op­por­tu­nity. In 1999 he had the honor of be­ing elected to serve on the Horse­less Car­riage Club of Amer­ica’s Na­tional Board of Direc­tors. Don and his wife Lil­lian trav­eled to board meet­ings across the United States mak­ing many new friend­ships that have lasted to this day. Don and Lil­lian are also char­ter mem­bers of the Horse­less Car­riage Re­search Li­brary. This Li­brary is now one of the largest early auto re­search fa­cil­i­ties in the world.

Don and Lil­lian shared their love of an­tique au­tos when they es­tab­lished the Horse­less Car­riage Garage and Mu­seum in Escalon some 30 years ago.

It houses an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of au­tos and mem­o­ra­bilia, and al­though it is pri­vately owned it is open to the pub­lic, with no fee. It iron­i­cally is housed at the old Ford garage owned by Blixt and Eliason on Sec­ond Street. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing cars for the Escalon His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety for pa­rades since the 1990s (as well as many other events), the garage has be­come an in­te­gral lo­ca­tion to visit by vin­tage auto lovers world­wide. Proof of how it has put Escalon on the map is a sign in­side the en­trance where Don has asked vis­i­tors to write “wel­come” in their own lan­guage. There are over 20 different greet­ings from different lan­guages.

Some of the most poignant ex­pe­ri­ences Don and Lil­lian have had in the garage are when vis­i­tors from area rest homes come by. He re­counts one story where an el­derly woman, upon en­ter­ing the garage, stood speech­less as she rec­og­nized the faint scent of grease and oil mixed with the cars, and it re­minded her of how her fa­ther smelled as he re­turned home from work ev­ery evening. It is not un­com­mon for vis­i­tors to have mem­o­ries of their child­hood, so many years ago, flood back into their minds upon en­ter­ing as if it were yes­ter­day. He also has an an­tique Mu­sic Box col­lec­tion which, if the au­tos weren’t enough, brings back mem­o­ries too. Don and Lil­lian are be­liev­ers in sup­port­ing lo­cal busi­ness and or­ga­ni­za­tions, such as the Escalon His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Vet­er­ans Groups and Li­ons Clubs.

Don will have a seat of honor on Satur­day morn­ing, wav­ing to pa­rade go­ers as the 2017 Grand Mar­shal.


Mem­bers of the Escalon Amer­i­can Le­gion Post present the colors to of­fi­cially start the 2016 Park Fete pa­rade – the or­ga­ni­za­tion will lead the way again on Satur­day morn­ing, the pa­rade stepping off at 11 a.m.

The Escalon Ma­sonic Lodge on Vik­ing will be the scene of a fill­ing omelet break­fast on Satur­day, July 15, the per­fect start to a jam packed Park Fete day.

Tak­ing up the mi­cro­phone to em­cee the pa­rade, Escalon Li­ons Club mem­ber Robert Swift en­joys vis­it­ing with pa­rade en­trants along the route.

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