A Quick Opinion: Youth Day is small town living at its best

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charley Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

Not every town gets to put on a parade and cheer on its citizens. Winters has been celebrating its youth since 1933 when the Reverend Charles Barkman and Winters High School Principal A.M. Herron decided to teach students about how a city is operated. They had the high school students elect a Youth Day Committee, a city council to pass new laws, organize a parade, festivities and then follow city officials around for a week.

The students had some adult supervision, but mostly they took care of Youth Day, from the parade, track meet to a talent show. Over the years, school leadership decided that they didn’t want to put in the time to organize their students and the Chamber of Commerce took over the event. The students, most of the time, have helped with certain aspects of Youth Day and elect a mayor, who appoints other city officials.

There are a lot of people that don’t understand how our city works and Youth Day should be a great opportunity to teach a civics lesson to our children. There is a great story about a gentleman getting elected to the city council and asked at his first meeting if he could make a motion. Yes, was the reply, so he made the motion to fire the local superintendent of schools. He was shocked when they told him that the school board hires and fires superintendents. He had run for the wrong office.

I’ve been looking for old Youth Day pictures to run on the yesteryear page, and it brings back good memories. I find parade pictures with my children sitting on a curb on Main Street watching the parade. There are also a lot of pictures of people that are no longer with us.

The pictures on the steps of City Hall of Youth Day officials are always interesting. A lot of those students are still active in our community, making Winters a better place to live and work. Those students are/were the leaders of the future.

I’ve lost count of how many Youth Days there have been. We skipped a few years during WWII and now we’ve skipped a few years because of COVID. There is always a rumor that this will be the last Youth Day, but someone always steps up to make sure the event still takes place. We’ve added a lot of new people over the past couple of years and volunteering it is a great way to get to know your neighbors. You can always contact the Chamber to see where help is needed. Sue@winterschamber.com should get you started in the right direction.

If you don’t want to volunteer there are plenty of ways to support Youth Day. You can buy a duck for the annual duck race, attend the Rotary/Fire Fighters’ Pancake (sausage) Breakfast at the Community Center, or just attend the parade and party at City Park. A simple thing that you can do is pick up trash when you see it blowing down the street.

The weather should be perfect this weekend, so put on your walking shoes and come downtown for a day of small town charm.

See you on Saturday.

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