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Loyalty Day 2013: ‘Serving Our Country & Community’
47th annual event takes center stage this weekend
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

May 03. 2013 9:03AM
A U.S. Navy veteran and his wife will serve as grand marshals of the 47th annual Loyalty Day Parade this Sunday in Brandon. Longtime Brandon residents Roger and Mary Brooks were selected to lead the parade, which travels west on Holly Boulevard, turns south on Main Avenue and ends at the corner of Main and Aspen Boulevard.

Parade organizer Dick Pickering said Brooks’ military and civil service made them an easy choice for the grand marshal honor.

“Roger and Mary care about what happens in the community,” Pickering said. “There are many things Roger’s done for veterans and he always tries to fulfill our wishes.”

The Brooks moved to Brandon in 1979. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1962-83, and ten went to work for Modern Woodmen of American. He was a Representative in the South Dakota Legislature from 1992-2000 and now sits on the Brandon City Council, a position he’s held since 2008. Roger Brooks is a past member of the Brandon Fire Department, and current member of the Tri-State Chief Petty Officers Association, Three Rivers VFW Post 4726, American Legion Post 318, is a lifetime member of the Fleet Reserve Association and charger member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 959.

Mary Brooks has worked as a registered nurse from 1966-79. She retired from Sioux Valley Hospital (now Sanford Health) in 2006. She, too, has served on the Brandon City Council (2000-04, and is a member of the health team at Celebration United Methodist Church, doing visitations to hospitals, nursing homes and local homes.

A variety of other individuals will also be honored during the 47th annual celebration, which is the longest running Loyalty Day celebration in South Dakota and fifth largest in the nation.

Zane Evans, son of Brian Evans and Tonya Burd, and Anna Risty, daughter of Jeremy and Rebecca Risty, will serve as this year’s Poppy Prince and Princess.

The Brandon Pizza Ranch, also celebrating a milestone in business – their 25th year in Brandon – was chosen as the Loyalty Day Business of the Year. Founded in 1988, Pizza Ranch has become a family favorite in the community.

The Brandon store has been a pioneer in the Pizza Ranch’s chain of 200 restaurants in 12 states. It was the first to store to have a basketball court, to serve buffet on a daily basis and to offer out-of-town delivery. The Brandon store also boasts that it is the largest store in the chain, offering 424 seats. It is also a two-time “Franchise of the Year” winner and in 2010, landed “Crew of the Year” honors.

Pickering said the Pizza Ranch was a unanimous choice for the award “for what they do for the community and what they do for us as a veteran,” he said.

Mike Bjelland and Daryl Olson will share co-honors. The duo has been selected as “Non-Members of the Year” for the continuous volunteer service at the VFW.

Geni Domagala and Sarah Flemmer are being recognized as “Honorary Employees of the Brandon VFW.”

Former Brandon Valley band director Robert Goheen will be recognized during the parade. Goheen, who was inducted into the South Dakota Bandmaster’s Hall of Fame this year, was a high school band director for 27 years.

Following the parade, kids will chance to win one of eight bikes in the always-popular “Balloon Pop”. There are other prizes to be won, as well, including donations from a variety of Brandon businesses.

A children’s karaoke contest is also part of the post-parade festivities at the VFW.
Also following the parade, a Blessing of the Bikes will be conducted in the parking lot of Brandon Lutheran Church, 600 E. Holly Blvd.

The VFW Auxiliary will be selling hotdogs, BBQs and chips outside the VFW Post Home that day as well.

Flag burning
Three Rivers Post 4726 is teaming up with Boy Scout Troop 582 to properly discard tattered U.S. flags at a flag burning ceremony Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., weather permitting. Flags should be brought to the Brandon VFW that day or dropped off there prior to Saturday for proper disposal.

Memorial bench
South Dakota Chapter Rolling Thunder, which promotes accountability for prisoners of war and military members missing in action, is sponsoring a marble bench to honor soldiers missing in action, will be placed in Brandon this year.

Rolling Thunder organizes social events at the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center, Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne, Minn., and the South Dakota Veterans Home in Hot Springs, and it conducts motorcycle poker runs to support the military. The organization meets the fourth Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. at the VFW, 3601 S. Minnesota Ave. All are welcome. Dale Jensen is president. 940-1593.
2013 Loyalty Day Events
Tuesday, April 30
7 p.m. – Bingo at Helping Hands Assisted Living Center
Wednesday, May 1
7 p.m. – Bingo at Bethany Meadows/Bethany Home-Brandon
Thursday, May 2
Noon – Bingo for Brandon Senior Citizens at Brandon VFW
Saturday, May 4
8 a.m. – Present flags at Special Olympics Southeast Area Spring Games, BVHS track complex
9 a.m.-noon – Poppy sales at Sunshine Foods, Brandon
Noon-3 p.m. – Poppy sales, Ace Hardware, Brandon
1 p.m. – Flag burning disposal ceremony
Sunday, May 5
8 a.m.-1 p.m. – Split Rock Fire Department Pancake Breakfast, East Highway 38
2 p.m. - 47th annual Loyalty Day Parade
Following parade – Refreshments & balloon sales at Brandon VFW
Following parade – Blessing of the Bikes at Brandon Lutheran Church
Following parade – Brandon Tennis Association Block Party, BVMS courts

Two-year-old Majesta Young does a little Loyalty Day dance on Brandon's Main Avenue last years as she awaited the parade units to make their way to her. The 47th annual Loyalty Day Parade starts at 2 p.m.. Challenger file photo

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