By Rick Miller

The Great Valley Bicentennial features a return to Old Home Days Saturday with a parade and family events at the Great Valley Volunteer Fire Company.

More than 25 parade units are registered for the parade so far, according to Great Valley historian Marilyn Eddy Siperek, who serves as Bicentennial chairperson.

While deadline for entries has passed, there is still be time for last-minute floats or marching units, Siperek said. Any groups with last minute entries should call Rick Ehman, parade chairman at 945-4371.

No new entries will be permitted the day of the parade, Sierek warned. “There’s a certain art to putting a parade together,” she said. “If people just show up on Saturday, it makes things more difficult. They will be following the horses at the end of the parade.”

Local families are getting children to decorate their bikes with ribbons to ride in the parade, just like the old days, Siperek said. “In keeping with the nostalgic nature of the parade there will be units like the Goode/Pierce family who will march with their children on decorated bikes, a throwback to their participation in the parades of their youth,” she said.

The last Great Valley Old Home days celebration and parade was held in the early 1990s. Old Home Days started in 1968 for the town’s 150th anniversary.

The last parade in the town was in 1993 when Great Valley quietly celebrated its 175th anniversary, the historian said.

The parade kicks off at noon on Saturday from the Great Valley Firemen’s campgrounds on Klawitter Road. The parade will travel up Klawitter Road to Mutton Hollow to Grace Avenue to Depot Street, where they will disburse behind the churches.

“We want people who remember the Old Home Days parades to be able to reminisce about parades past,” Siperek said. “We’ve had contact with a lot of people who want their children and grandchildren to see the kind of parades they remember.”

Quite a few area families have scheduled family reunions around the Bicentennial Parade and weekend events, Siperek said.

Yes, the Shriners go-cart and motorcycle unit from Gowanda will be there to entertain the crowd.

A Case Traction Steam Engine will in the parade and will be on display at the Fire Hall, offering demonstrations of its steam whistle.

“Of course, what would a Bicentennial parade be without a Bicentennial queen, fire trucks, floats, rescue vehicles, horses, heavy equipment, wagons, old cars, and candy thrown to the children?” Siperek said.

“We want children to see their fair share of moving vehicles and the smiles on their faces along with the looks on parents and grandparents faces,” Siperek said.

The parade’s anchor will be a horn section from Rochester called The Hitmen Brass Band, Siperek said. The group is sponsored by Gernatt Asphalt Products in Peth.

Other musical units include: The Buffalo Five band featuring the homegrown Wendall family, formerly of Peth, sponsored by Al Robison Construction; 23 Skidoo (Dixieland music); and the Blue Mule Band, both sponsored by Holiday Valley.

Parking will be available in marked areas at the firemen’s grounds and the Baptist Church. No parking will be allowed along the parade route.

Also on Saturday, there will be a bounce house, water slide, dunk tank, fire truck demonstrations in the kid’s zone and other free fun things for the children, sponsored by the Great Valley Fire Company.

A chicken barbecue and hot dogs will be available to buy until sold out. At 2 p.m., judging begins for best beards and mustaches and best costumes.

There will be a street dance from 7 to 10 p.m. with the band Wild Card, also sponsored by the fire company. A fireworks show sponsored by the fire company starts at 10 o’clock.

Other Bicentennial weekend events include:

• A self-driving Willoughby Tour beginning at the old McNamara farm at 5754 Humphrey Road between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tour brochures directing participants to historic places around the town will be available. The tour should take about 90 minutes.

• Stop 2 includes an interior tour of the Italianate style house previously occupied by the Brown, Ehman and Gelen families located across from Berry Patch.

• Stop 3 is the business district of Willoughby where three historic buildings remain (Including the Old Willoughby Cheese Factory, old store and views of the old Willoughby School).

• Stop 4 is the Willoughby Cemetery, where Mark Rust will be available to answer questions and tell you a story or two about the inhabitants.

• Stop 5 is where the tour ends at the Farming Now and Then event at the Dan and Marcy Brown Snow Brook Farm at 5346 Snow Brook Road. A Fordson tractor, Willy’s Ag Jeep and implements of yesteryear, as well as modern equipment will be on display.

There will also be old pictures of farms, farmers and farming operations. To show progress made over the years, there will be a tour of the farm’s robotic milking operations.

The last of the Bicentennial observances will be Aug. 5. The Kill Buck Community Picnic will be held at the Kill Buck Firemen’s Park. Hot dogs and salads and water will be provided. Feel free to bring other non-alcoholic beverages.

Sally Marsh will be performing and is also donating a quilt, to be raffled off, with Kill Buck pictures on the squares. A variety of family activities, including games will be offered. Attendees will also vote on park name.

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