By TEDDYE SNELL
TAHLEQUAH — email@example.com
Thousands of Cherokee citizens, area residents and visitors lined Muskogee Avenue Saturday morning, as the 61st annual Cherokee National Holiday parade got under way.
This year’s event featured well over 100 entries, including tribal officials and royalty, floats, marching bands, civic groups, lawmakers, Shriners and others.
Diane Kelly and Brenda Fitzgerald, of Cherokee Nation Career Services, served as parade announcers.
“This is my third year to announce, and I really enjoy it,” said Fitzgerald. “We have just a ton of energy at the nation right now, and I’m very excited about the holiday.”
Parade coordinator Debra Lack said it takes months to plan for such a large event. The CN Holiday parade is one of the lengthier parades in Tahlequah, rivaled only by the city’s Christmas parade.
“We’re already planning for next year,” said Lack. “We have so many entries this year, and are very happy about that.”
Kelly said she appreciated the amount of dedication by the Cherokee Nation employees who spend the entire holiday working at the myriad events.
“Lots of folks have worked really, really hard,” said Kelly. “I hope everyone who attends the holiday has an enjoyable weekend.”
“It’s a special time for all of us, as we come together as one fire,” said Fitzgerald.
Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan said she enjoys spending the weekend with kindred spirits.
“This holiday theme [Homes. Health. Hope] is a reflection of our priorities,” said Glory-Jordan. “It’s a time to honor our history and look to the future.”
Following the parade, Principal Chief Bill John Baker gave his state of the nation address, and the new Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton, and Junior Miss Cherokee LaNice Belcher, were officially crowned.
The Cherokee National Holiday draws about 100,000 visitors to the area each Labor Day weekend. The event has grown to include activities that span the length of the city from south to north.