Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018
Salem Old Settlers

Tradition prevails because of family

Aug 27, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Salem 4-H students aim water guns at the crowd on a 90-degree day during Salem Old Settlers on Saturday, Aug. 25.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


SALEM — Jackie Ackles stood on the corner of South Main Street in Salem attentively awaiting the Salem Old Settlers parade to begin on Saturday, Aug. 25.

“Our granddaughter marches in the band,” Ackles said proudly of Mikayla Ackles, 16, who plays the flute in the Mt. Pleasant Marching Band.

As the parade started with the Mt. Pleasant color guard twirling flags and the band confidently playing, people stood from their lawn chairs or jumped off the curb. The parade in Salem is an interactive event, as kids threw beach balls back and forth from one float, frantically picked up candy, were handed Popsicles and even got a little damp from the Salem 4-H students’ water guns.

Ackles has been coming to Old Settlers all her life, and now the tradition is being instilled in her granddaughter. When Ackles was a girl living on her family farm, Old Settlers was one of the only times during the summer where they were able to get into town and see their friends. “It was a party for us,” she said.

Ackles’ fondest memory is convincing her parents to let them stay in town all afternoon after helping serve lunch with the Salem Congregational Church. It wasn’t so much about the food — of course that was delicious. No, for Ackles, it was more about eating together as a community and working together with a group of people.

The atmosphere of Old Settlers still feels like a party to Ackles today, though the carnival isn’t as big. Although Ackles now lives in Mt. Pleasant, it’s a homecoming for her. She still knows a lot of the people and families around town, who have carried on the tradition for 135 years.

“Do you realize how long it’s been going on?” asked Doris Septer, of Salem. “It prevails because of the people.”

Even so, sitting beside Septer, Mary Lou Stewart, of Salem, frets that as the younger generation moves out of Salem, it will be more difficult to continue the community gathering.

“When they first started having it, there were horses and buggies, ladies wore long dresses and hats,” Stewart said. “I only know from pictures,” she added with a soft laugh.

Septer, however, disagreed that Salem Old Settlers has an expiration date. It has been passed down to the next generation — successfully, Septer said. “I think it gets better every year,” she said.

For Mary Lou Elmore, of Omaha, Neb., Old Settlers is also about homecoming. Elmore travels to Salem for this very weekend every year with her husband, who is from the area.

“It’s kind of a meeting place,” Elmore said.

That’s definitely true for the generations of family represented at Old Settlers over the weekend.

Joyce Lasswell, of Salem, has been attending Old Settlers for 50 years. One of the greatest joys she gets from Old Settlers now is watching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren carry on the tradition. “It brings the community together to work together,” she said.

Doug and Karen Ham also have close to 50 years of Old Settlers under their belt. Sitting next to their four-year-old and two-year-old granddaughters Alaura and Alayna Rohdey, Karen said that the most enjoyable part is watching them run around while their parents chase them.

Kelly Patterson, member of the Old Settlers Committee, said that the weekend had a good turnout, despite the threat of rain Friday night. Born and raised in Salem, Patterson has attended the parade every year, first being a part of the parade herself and now watching her kids participate.

Old Settlers hit the ground running Friday night with a Car Cruise show, a carnival and the Richie Lee & The Fabulous ‘50s band.

Saturday opened with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Salem Fire Department, a Kids Fun Run and an Adult Fun Run/Walk.

In the afternoon, Old Settlers-goers stopped by the Quilt Show in the library, a bake sale and silent auction, participated in the pedal pull, heard Whiskey Friends play and finished the day with a chicken barbecue dinner.

Festivities wrapped on Sunday with a church service in the park sponsored by the Salem Congregational Church, a community potluck and a horseshoe tournament.

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