Monday, July 05, 2010

Bonanza Column 192 - A Great Small-Town Fourth

Basking in the afterglow of Independence Day Weekend this will be a column of kudos. Full disclosure: I am a founding member and current member of the Red, White, and Tahoe Blue Board, and make no claim to be unbiased. I will, however, for reasons of good taste, refrain from commenting on any of the events I was accountable for.

This fourth RWTB was, arguably, the best yet. The weather and the calendar conspired to give us record crowds, and all the events were terrific – the wine and cheese tasting, under April Marriner's able management had more wineries and more attending than ever before – the biggest problem was getting people to go home afterward. The well-attended Beer and Brats (that's bratwurst, not nasty kids) tasting was also April's idea and production – congrats to her and to Amy and Will from Incline Wine & Spirits for two great events. Joanne Devine and her committee produced a spectacular (and huge) parade, the Duck races sold out (thanks, Rotary), and the fireworks thanks to Jim Smith, Greg McKay, and others were appropriately spectacular. Thanks also to Chris Talbot for arranging great entertainment including the wonderful Sigtuna Brass Sextet (I guess they don't count the drummer – only the brass – or it would be a septet). Also our dedicated Americorps volunteers led by Katy Washington who put on an outstanding Village Fair on the Green. And finally thanks to Bill Horn, Hal Paris, Shelia Leijon, and all of the IVGID staff who must be breathing a sigh of relief today and who did their usual outstanding job along with the Sheriff's Department in managing the whole event.

But in all this there is one group that often goes unnoticed and that deserves a shout-out. Every year, Boy Scout Troop 37 under the dedicated leadership of Kim and Jim Schmidt and their able Assistant Scoutmasters raises and lowers the flag each day, carries the colors in the veterans salute, and this year did something that didn't get enough notice. Title Four of the US Code, called the "Flag Code" was adopted in 1923 and governs almost everything about the flag including display, but also including how to properly dispose of a flag that has become so worn or tattered that it should no longer be displayed. On Friday evening on the Village Green, Troop 37 conducted the little-known Flag Retirement Ceremony. They began with a very respectful retirement of a large flag that had flown in front to the Rec Center – a large wood fire was lit, a color guard marched the flag in, Gen. Hal Strack (USA ret.) played "Taps" on the bugle, and the flag was burned while all saluted until it was gone. A similar ceremony gave those present who had brought flags an opportunity to retire them as well. A great, moving ceremony that should be an annual event – thanks to all concerned for reminding us of what Independence Day is really about.

Lastly, the regular reader of this column will know that I am one of TOCCATA's biggest fans. By the time this comes out, you will have missed the opportunity, but I have to tell you that in this year's celebration concert they outdid themselves. Maestro James Rawie and his very capable partner Nancy have an uncanny gift for attracting world-class talent. In this show, in addition to a somewhat smaller Tahoe Symphony (they were competing with the Reno Phil for musicians this weekend) and the TOCCATA Chorus, local soprano Joy Strotz and her sister, a Broadway performer Melody Moore (with their mother on harp with the orchestra) performed songs from Wicked, nationally-known (but Tahoe-based) musician Donna Axton did a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue that was as good as or better than any I have ever heard, and the whole program was up to that standard. If you are not a fan and supporter of TOCCATA you are missing the opportunity to participate in something that makes living here truly special.

Next week it's back to politics, but for this week, it's just great to live in a small town that knows how to celebrate.

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