Harvest of Harmony’s roots go back to 1938 when Grand Island Chamber of Commerce members decided to organize an event to promote goodwill among the area small towns. That first parade was a rousing success with eight bands and 13 floats in a parade that was estimated to have 10,000 people watching from the streets.
Just as Harvest of Harmony was getting off the ground, World War II began and ceased the parade for a few years in 1942, due to gas rationing. Once the war ended, Harvest of Harmony resumed in 1946 and added the ever-popular pageant.
During the years, Harvest of Harmony has grown into one of Nebraska’s largest marching band competitions.
This year’s parade attracted more than 190 entries, including high school bands and floats. There also were 24 bands competing in the field competition at Grand Island Senior High School’s Memorial Stadium.
The parade’s theme, “We Are All Superheroes,” is an appropriate selection for recognizing local frontline workers who have kept our community going as we approach two years of surviving the pandemic.
There also are many volunteers who help the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce stage the annual event, which, no doubt, is one of the “crown jewel” events annually for our community.
Tom Graves and Marcia Reidy are among a team of volunteers who ensure the clockwork operation of the Harvest of Harmony events, including the pageant Friday night at College Park.
“Volunteers like Tom Graves and Marcia Reidy are vital to the success of the Harvest of Harmony Parade,” said Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Johnson said. “They know what is needed and they do whatever it takes to make their portion of the parade go flawlessly.”
Much like the effort it takes each year to host the Nebraska State Fair, volunteers are the “superheroes” of the Harvest of Harmony activities. The thousands of visitors who come to town for the fall event enjoy the music ringing through the downtown area and maybe lunch or dinner at a local establishment.
The chamber should be commended for yet another weekend event that brings folks to town in the spirit of harmony, which exactly was the mission when Harvest of Harmony began 83 years ago. We all should thank those original organizers for having the vision to develop an event that crosses city limits and county lines.
There’s no doubt Harvest of Harmony long will be a community event that draws people from across the region.