Thousands turnout for Williams celebration

Community observes July 4, sesquicentennial

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Teresa Wood
Members of the Williams American Legion Post 633 present the colors at the Williams Sesquicentennial Fourth of July celebration on Thursday.

Thousands lined the streets of Williams Thursday morning to help the community mark its 68th annual Independence Day celebration and the town’s sesquicentennial.

Over 30 members of the Iowa Chapter of the American Legion Riders advanced the colors to start the parade with a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Parade Grand Marshall Al McCoy, the “Voice of the Phoenix Suns” and a Williams native, lead over 200 entries down Main Street on a sunny and humid day.

Communities throughout north central Iowa made an appearance in the parade with fire and rescue vehicles from Blairsburg, Jewell, Webster City, Woodstock, Kamrar, Dows and Alden parading through town.

Williams also was graced by the presence of royalty with queens and princesses appearing in the parade. Hamilton County Fair Queen McKenna Mitchell and the Williams Princesses Mariel Moreno, Joetta Schnell, Ava Otteros, Hayden Keane and Hattie Heiden waved to the cheering crowds. The Blairsburg community princesses also made an appearance.

Williams Lions Harli Schutt and Mike Burton open the time capsule in Williams Park which was sealed in 1969. The time capsule contained a Des Moines Register which announced "Man Walks On The Moon.”

Webster City was represented with a contingent of Doodle Bug riders and the Murray McMurray Hatchery vintage vehicle.

Several area families took the opportunity to show up in force. The Hemken Family Band was cheered on by the crowd and more than 45 other Hemken relatives. Over 50 descendants of Oscar and Beulah Ose commemorated the 100th anniversary of their marriage and the family’s arrival in the Hamilton County area.

One member of the Ose family was recognized as the oldest Williams High School graduate attending Thursday’s celebration. Enlow Ose graduated with the WHS Class of 1941 and was chauffeured by Judy Burton in the parade.

Andy Alan marked 50 years of continuous appearances in the Williams parade on his McCormick tractor.

Following the parade, the crowds walked to the Williams City Park where games, food and fun awaited.

Williams native Al McCoy was the Grand Marshal of the Williams Lions Club 68th Annual Fourth of July celebration. The event also celebrated the town's Sesquicentennial. McCoy served as the broadcast announcer for the Phoenix Suns and claims he got his start by doing play-by-play calling of his father doing farm chores.

The Williams Lions Club miniature train, a fixture at the annual celebration, made its rounds through the park. The train has been owned and operated for the Lions Club for over 50 years. It was built in 1941-1943 and remains one of 1,000 left operating in the United States. This was a groundbreaking year as it was the first time the train was manned by a female. Williams Princess Hayden Keane took hold of the throttle to steer youngsters around the track.

Event participants throughout the park also took part in foot races, a kickball tournament, the Car, Tractor and Bike Show, a kids pedal pull, rescue team water fights, Logs4Heroes and MAC Life Church inflatable rides.

In the afternoon, the Williams Princesses performed their program in the Park Gazebo. They were followed by the music of the Hoelscher family.

Robert Hoelscher presented a declaration to the Williams community from President Donald Trump and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The final afternoon event was the opening of the Williams Centennial Time Capsule from 1969. Lions Club members Harli Schutt, Charlene and Mike Burton opened the capsule to reveal a Des Moines Register heralding “Man Walks On The Moon”. There was also a letter of congratulations to Williams from Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, a Northeast Hamilton Yearbook and several Sports Illustrated magazines with Michael Jordan and Tonya Harding on the covers. There was a T-Shirt from the community’s 125th anniversary celebration and a list of the stores that were currently operating in Williams. Floyd Burton, a 1969 Lions Club member, had graciously donated his commemorative coffee cup.

Harli Schutt asked community members to donate items for the sesquicentennial time capsule which will be buried later this year.

The Williams Sesquicentennial Quilt, constructed by Donna Greenfield, was won by Jan Holtkamp. Both women worked on the quilt and agreed to share the prize.

The day was capped off with the legendary Williams Lions Club firework display.