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Then & Now

(1998)

ool nights and falling leaves signal Autumn in Mariposa.  The smell of wood smoke wafting from chimneys greets one's nostrils in the morning, while nights are spent bundled up at home.  Like so much else here, Autumn has a special "small-town flavor" for Mariposa residents.  Extra-curricular sports prevail for the children as soccer and football leagues host up fierce Saturday competitions and the holidays are seen as a chance to visit with family and friends.

Holidays and occasions profiled here include:

HALLOWEEN    |    VETERAN'S DAY    |    THANKSGIVING


Have a safe Halloween!
ctober, of course, brings Halloween and the town revels in an old-fashioned environment. Children take costumes to school and vie in contests for the funniest, scariest, etc..  Mariposa Elementary School (which is situated in the heart of the town) holds an annual costume parade.  The children (or whatever they are for the day) parade along the streets from the school down to the County Courthouse.  The avenues are lined with cheering parents, grandparents and other family members, as well as members-at-large from the community.  When their route is completed, the children return to their classrooms for parties.

he businesses in town annually host trick-or-treaters from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m..  The town becomes crowded with hosts of angels, monsters and the likes as trick-or-treaters make their way from business to business.  Of course for many, trick-or-treating continues into the residential parts of town and into the evening hours.  However, a large number of residents  also partake of a Community Carnival.  Billed as a "safe alternative to trick-or-treating" the carnival is sponsored by service groups and manned by youth groups.  Participants consider the carnival a service project and strive to keep the costs to a minimum.  Games and food booths occupy Halloween revelers providing a safe and supervised evening activity.  In addition, by evening's end, one lucky carnival-goer wins the door prize - a giant goodie bag filled with toys, games and candy, while one organization earns the title of "Best Booth."

f course, for those requiring more paranormal in their lives, the County Courthouse has long been a sight of "ghostly" occurrences.  County employees are said to have heard thumps, bangs, music and more in the old building.  It is said that lights coming on in locked rooms, and shutters found open where they had before been closed, tend to keep employee overtime to a minimum.  One employee recounts an evening when he worked in the structure as a docent.  The evening grew long, and visitors were sparse so he decided to sit down to rest for a while.  It was at that time that he heard footsteps ascending the wooden stairs near him. He quickly rose, and followed the individual to the second floor - yet, once there he found it empty!  So, perhaps, a Halloween expedition would bring a "spirited" reply. 

ariposa, as with most small towns, is fiercely patriotic and takes great pride in its Veterans.  After all, they were the sons and neighbors who went off to do what they felt was right.  And as with most places in this country, Mariposa Veteran's Day observances tend to be solemn events - a quiet "thank you" to those whose efforts might otherwise be forgotten. 

he Mariposa Gazette, the town's oldest newspaper (operating continuously since 1854)  echoed the townsfolk's sentiments in a simple tribute.  In a small square on its front page, the "Gazette" runs a small piece called the "Citizen of The Week," where it singles out outstanding folks.  The tribute of November 5, 1998 read: "All of the veterans in our community and country are celebrated this week as Citizens of the Week in observance of Veterans' Day..." 

f course, more formal observances also took place.  Perhaps, the largest one was a special commemorative ceremony sponsored by, and held at, Mariposa Elementary School.  The ceremony, started by Principal Susan Robinson some years back, was this year held on Friday, November 6th.  A Veteran's of Foreign Wars (V.F.W.) color guard was present as the special commemoration took place in front of the school's five hundred, plus, children.  But surely the highlight of the ceremony was a special, and emotional, presentation of a long overdue purple heart to Dennis Blessing, the Commander of the local V.F.W. post.  Blessing had been wounded in Vietnam and, like so many, forgotten.  However, that oversight was corrected as Dana Walton, the local field representative for Congressman George Radanovich presented the special award. 

erhaps it was nature's tribute to these valiant men and women, but Veteran's Day dawned a gray, rainy day preventing the hanging of the normal profusion of American flags throughout town and in the cemetery.  Instead, the pallor mirrored all too eloquently the souls that had been shattered and the hearts which still remembered.

s with most small towns, Thanksgiving in Mariposa is a time to gather with family and friends - to be thankful for all that we have.  Life is fairly traditional in Mariposa, and Thanksgiving is no exception. 

n school, the younger children have Thanksgiving parties where popcorn becomes maize and "Chex Mix" becomes turkey.  In the homes, families gather together to enjoy each other's company.  Manna House, a local organization devoted to helping the needy, collects donations of cash and food from various local food drives.  In this way, Manna House is able to provide Thanksgiving Day feasts to all who need one.

owever, if one were to choose any local residents who embodied the spirit of Thanksgiving, one would have to choose Pastor and Mrs. Henry Falany.
 

very year, for the past nine years, the Falanys have celebrated Thanksgiving like most of the country, preparing a full turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.  But to the Falanys, giving thanks is more than a phrase and each year they show just how thankful they are for their blessings by sharing them with those who are less fortunate.  Each year, one week before Thanksgiving, Pastor and Mrs. Falany run an advertisement in the local newspaper inviting anyone in the community to join them for the holiday.  They announce the time of the Thanksgiving dinner and, the only thing they ask, is that those people planning to attend give them advance notice so that they can plan the amount of food they will need.  Not many people would open their homes in this fashion.  Fewer still would also commit the time and energy to also provide transportation for those in need.  But, that's exactly what the Falanys do.

bviously, it is easy to see that Mariposa's most valuable commodity is the genuine caring of friends.

WINTER

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