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Harvest of Harmony festivities on Friday, Saturday

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The Harvest of Harmony parade, pageant and field competition will be held this week.

The theme for 2022, “Marching Through the Decades” was chosen to represent Nebraska through the decades, including the past 80 years of the Harvest of Harmony parade, as well as the community of Grand Island’s 150th birthday.

This year’s parade will start at 8:15 a.m. The route will begin at the corner of Fourth Street and Elm Street, heading west on Fourth Street before turning south onto Eddy Street. From there, parade entries will turn east onto Third Street, heading toward the end of the parade route at the corner of Third Street and Oak Street.

The Harvest of Harmony parade is sponsored by Century 21 Realty.

Nebraska’s largest parade attracts more than 200 entries from a combination of high school bands, pageant contestants, and float entries from all over the state.

This year, the Harvest of Harmony will include 96 marching bands, 97 float entries, and 18 pageant contestants. Twenty-eight of the bands will also perform at the Field Competition, sponsored by Big Red Treats.

This year’s parade will feature three college bands: University of Nebraska Kearney, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Wayne State College. The UNO and WSC bands will also perform an exhibition show at the field competition.

The Nebraska tradition dates back to 1938 when the first parade stepped off with 13 floats and eight bands. The parade grew over the years, claiming the title of “highest number of bands marching in a parade” in the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records with 130 bands. Aside from a hiatus from 1942 to 1945 because of World War II and in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade has marched on for 80 years.

This historic parade will be led by Grand Marshal Judi Nelson, who has been involved with the Harvest of Harmony Alumni Band for more than 25 years, and marched in her final parade as the Alumni Band Director in 2021. Going forward, Nelson plans to pass the director title to another member of the Alumni Band while still assisting with practices and preparations in the weeks leading up to the event.

“It was an easy decision to select Judi Nelson as the Grand Marshal. She has been such a key member of the Harvest of Harmony Alumni Band and we are lucky to have had her as the director for so many years,” Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Johnson said in announcing Nelson’s selection in June. “Judi embodies the energy and enthusiasm so pronounced during the Harvest of Harmony parade and associated activities.”

The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce and Harvest of Harmony Committee have selected three individuals to serve as judges for the Chamber’s 2022 Harvest of Harmony Parade Float Competition — Chris Hochstetler, Amanda Kreutzer, and Jacki Proctor.

Chris Hochstetler is a second-year judge. Chris is the executive director for Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. He was born and raised in Grand Island and returned to his hometown to lead the Stuhr Museum after being away for 33 years. Chris had a 20-year career in the U.S. Army and retired in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies and History from the University of Maryland and a Master of Public Administration. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation, The Multicultural Coalition, Nebraskans for the Arts, University of Nebraska Medical Center Board of Counselors, Nebraska Museums Association, and is a mentor for the Grand Island Youth Philanthropy Board. Chris is a watercolor artist and has two adult children, Hayley and Tanner.

Kreutzer is a second-year judge. Amanda has been an interior designer with CMBA Architects for seven years. She is originally from Nebraska City and holds a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She serves on YWCA of Grand Island’s Board of Directors, is a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow’s Class 35, and a recipient of Grand Island Chamber of Commerce’s Top 35 Under 35. Amanda is a proud wife of Matthew and mother to Adelaide, Margaret, and Eleanor. Never having one set hobby, Amanda is constantly finding something new to try and excel at; she is an enthusiast of travel, art, and architecture, avoiding the dirty dishes, and of late, embroidery.

Proctor is a first-year judge. Jacki Proctor is a native of Grand Island with a long family history in this community. She left shortly after graduating high school and spent many years traveling the world before returning home three years ago. Jacki holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art and Art History and a Masters of Education in Experiential Learning & Development. She has two grown children, a son who works in information technology in Santa Monica, Calif., and a daughter who is active duty with the Air Force currently stationed in Northern California. She also has two small grandsons. Jacki is a working artist and is developing a creative arts center with her partner Chris, as well as an art teacher at Walnut Middle School.

Unlike previous years, the float judging has moved to the morning of the parade, October 1. The float judges will be stationed on 4th Street where floats are lining up to enter the parade route. Floats will have the opportunity to show off their float and inform the judges of how they made it and highlight the details.

Winners will be selected in four categories: Business, Civic, School and Children. The first-, second- and third-place winners will be announced in the days following the parade, and awards will be hand-delivered.

Area communities, businesses, clubs, service organizations, and individuals are invited to participate in the parade by entering a float. A variety of float types are welcome in the Harvest of Harmony Parade: walking units, single vehicle, and towed decorated floats. Though not required, it is encouraged to decorate the floats in relation to the parade’s theme.

Pageant

Three locals will serve as judges for the Chamber’s Miss Harvest of Harmony Pageant. Sarah Koch, Butch Moural and Michael Stanton will choose winners from a plethora of candidates.

Koch is the executive director of the GRACE Cancer Foundation. Sarah is a 2010 Southeast Community College graduate with strong knowledge and diverse background in for-profit and non-profit marketing, recruitment, and fundraising. She is originally from Lemoyne, Nebraska, where she grew up on Lake McConaughy. Sarah and her husband, Brandon, moved to Grand Island in 2016. Sarah also teaches dance at Studio N Dance Center in her free time, where she helps the littlest dancers find their passion for dance. Sarah and her husband, Brandon, enjoy spending time with their two girls, seven-year-old Gracyn, two-year-old Addie, and black lab Maggie. Sarah and her family love spending time together, especially watching their girls dance, spending time with their family outdoors, and love being on the lake or at her husband’s family farm. Sarah was named a 2018 Grand Island Chamber’s Top 35 under 35, a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow class 34, a 2020-2021 Greater Grand Island Community Foundation Non-Profit Excellence Institute graduate, 2021-2022 Leadership Hastings Class, and a Non-Profit Association of the Midlands Non-Profit Executive Institute member class 15.

Moural grew up on a farm by Schuyler and received his bachelor’s degree from University of Nebraska at Kearney. Grand Island has been his home for the last 22 years. He started working for FNBO (First National Bank of Omaha) in 2004, and for the last seven years he has been a mortgage lender for the company. Butch graduated from Leadership Tomorrow. His community and volunteering involvement over those years have included being on the boards for Leadership Tomorrow, Downtown Grand Island and Habitat for Humanity. He was nominated to compete for the crown of Mr. Habitat 2014. He is currently or have been involved with a variety of committees for the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Stuhr Museum, Ducks Unlimited, Nebraska Turkey Federation, the Grand Island Board of Realtors and Central Nebraska Home Builders Association and have coached little league football and baseball for his boys. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and all their family being outdoors traveling, hunting, fishing, boating, and hiking.

Stanton has called Grand Island home for the past 30 years. Growing up here, he always knew that this was the community he wanted to raise a family in. Michael is very busy with his wife Jessica, and sons Silas and Porter. They are expecting another boy to finish off their family of five. Michael has spent his entire career in the financial services industry, the last eight years as the Director of Development for Allen Capital Group. He is very passionate about giving back and believes that a community is only as strong as the people willing to get involved. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Leadership Unlimited, Grace Cancer Foundation, and is heavily involved with Third City Christian Church’s Missions Team. He previously served on the Board of Directors for Hope Harbor, still being heavily involved with the non-profit. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his family and golfing as much as he can.

The pageant judging will take place at College Park throughout the day on Friday. The contestants will answer questions during a five-minute interview. They are judged on response to interview questions, resume, personal appearance, and their life aspirations.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the evening pageant program. Families of contestants, friends, and business sponsors are invited to attend the program. Members of the community are also invited to attend. Pageant tickets are $8 and can be purchased in advance at the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, 309 West 2nd Street, Grand Island.

Participating contestants are high school senior girls selected by their school. Harvest of Harmony pageant judges will select five finalists, including Miss Harvest of Harmony.

Nebraska’s largest parade attracts more than 200 entries from a combination of high school bands, pageant contestants, and float entries from all over the state.

Read more about Miss Harmony contestants in Thursday’s Independent and at TheIndependent.com.

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