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Nicolaus celebrates Labor Day with parade
It was like a flashback to another era, when cars were mostly big and farms were mostly small.
Jan Smoot of Sacramento was a first-time spectator Monday at the Nicolaus Labor Day Parade, and she noted the authenticity of the event's small-town spirit.
"This is very old-fashioned," she said from her camping chair on a friend's front lawn overlooking the Marcum Road festivities.
This year's theme — Life on the Farm — contributed to the event's bucolic atmosphere.
Behind the parade float judges, the walnut pies and fruit cobblers were going fast, and the bloody Marys and gin fizzes flowed.
Monday's procession included school floats decked out as one-room schoolhouses and a steam engine that pulled the East Nicolaus High School Marching Band. It also featured a steady flow of Mexican charros with dancing horses, and a colorful stream of antique vehicles — including tractors, Model-A Fords and a wooden hearse drawn by a team of tall, black Percherons.
Most notable among the oddities was a group of children with small and miniature horses dressed and painted like safari animals.
"It reminds me of the movie 'Picnic,' where the whole town shows up," Smoot said of the cinema classic, which also was set in a small town on Labor Day — but in the early 1950s.
In the case of Nicolaus, which technically has only a couple hundred residents, the draw this year — the event's 21st — probably included much of the South Sutter County area, as well as visitors like Smoot.
Onlookers stood 12-deep near the grandstand.
Nearby, on Bob Immoos' lawn, strangers took over patches of grass closest to the road, while the home owner and his friends formed a row of mezzanine seats closer to the house.
Few residents of Nicolaus escape the annual festivities without making a contribution, they explained.
Immoos helped build the train float a decade or so ago, and he wired the central parade area where vendors set up.
Jerry Michel said he donates hay for the bar area.
"Once you get a job, you keep that job, seems like," Michel said.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at email@example.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.