By Laurie Ourada
few months ago I entered a contest, sponsored by Kraft, which offered the prize of a concert in my home town, the entry process was to write an essay on why you think you live in the best little town in America. I thought this would be fun to win a "Love and Theft" concert and have them perform at our Captain Dan Days at Lucan. As I started to write my essay, I realized that I needed the help of my family and friends who also lived here or have visited Lucan. So I asked several to write a paragraph on what they thought was so special about Lucan and the event we host here each May. I would like to share some of those comments with you.
Alan Peterson, Marshall Patriot Guard Captain, shares: "I have seen that the smaller the town, the greater the patriotism. With our nation at war, when a young man or woman from a small town voluntarily enlists in our military to serve and protect our citizens, he or she is everyone's son, daughter, friend or neighbor. When one is lost, the whole community grieves, when one comes home, the whole community celebrates. As a member of the PGR, I have seen that personally in the very small town of Lucan, population 226, at their annual Captain Dan Days celebration."
Paul and Jan Brown from Hutchinson share: "The sense of family and deep caring from the town really draws us back each year. While all are aware of the beginnings of the event, there is always a sense of so much more. It's never about 'just one person' but about compassion, friendship, recognition of pain, willingness to help ease and share some burden and always about love for one another."
Brian Sams, Redwood Falls, PGR shares: "What most people who are not from here fail to realize is that it is not even about the very real and very painful loss of a local son who was killed in a tragic car accident while attending college. It is so much more than that! This small town event goes well beyond what the outsider would expect, where for one weekend a year, the whole area becomes a little friendlier and a bit more closely knit. Warmth, friendship, fellowship and a sharing of true and raw emotions become part of the celebration. All of us have experienced some sort of loss in our lives and the people who work tirelessly to put on this event are well aware of this fact. But more important than the feeling of loss, is the feeling of gain. All who attend this celebration will leave with a greater sense of patriotism, pride, love and respect than one can imagine."
Ron Mackedanz, Willmar Patriot Guard Captain, shares: "As a member of the Mn PGR riding into Lucan during Captain Dan days is absolutely fantastic. Mingling with the citizens of this small prairie town, my wife Janet and I immediately were made to feel like family."
Dennis Bernardy, Tacoma, Wash., shares: "I have traveled from Tacoma to witness Captain Dan Days and it touched me to the center of my soul. At this event I saw small town America at its best. Lucan has about 250 residents, but I would guess that this special weekend brings in many, many times more people. It is a classic, 'if you build it, they will come' type of event. This weekend started because a dear soul was taken to early from his loved ones and it has turned into so much more. I witnessed a dove release in memory of three of our fallen soldiers, balloons with notes attached were released to heaven. It was in those moments when the doves and balloons were released that I broke down and cried."
Sheila Rubendall, Lucan, shares: "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolets. These are some of our favorites here in Lucan, too: We love baseball (softball to be exact), hot dogs with all the fixings, There might not be apple pie but how about the Red and Blue Icees? And the number of Chevy trucks that line the streets in Lucan more than doubles the population for the Captain Dan weekend. We come together to share a hot dog and beverage with our neighbor as we cheer on the locals out on the ball field and sand volleyball courts, we enjoy the music in the background as we watch our children play in the park. The simple things in life that remind me that I'm proud to be a part of this community. There is a saying, 'we may not have everything together, but together we have everything.' Yes that is what we have in Lucan."
Kandy Stevens, Marshall, shares: "If you come and really experience a Captain Dan event, I guarantee you will have a good time, you will be uplifted, and you will be reminded of what really matters in this world. As far as I can tell, the Ouradas have gotten it exactly right! And I can only imagine that one special young man looks down every year from heaven and smiles!!"
Regan Jacoby, Vesta, 8, wrote this note after working event: I love Captain Dan event. I love working at the concession stand at Captain Dan even though we don't get payed. I just love Andrea and you.
Patty Erickson, Marshall, shares: "The balloon and dove release is something that has to be experienced to truly understand its powerful impact. It is a time for reflection, to remember both the sad and the happy, to send a prayer on the wings of a dove or on the shine of a balloon to someone you miss so dearly. There really are no words that can adequately describe this experience. Come and see for yourself."
Larry Mages, Lafayette, shares: "As the sounds of this small town celebration are in the air, in the distance can be heard the rumble of a hundred PGR or the whop whop of a BlackHawk helicopter. All perfectly timed for the program of people releasing balloons in the names of their loved ones. An American flag being raised that was flown on a combat mission in Iraq by one of Lucan's own BlackHawk Pilots. Or soldiers chokingly remembering a good buddy for a war."
Well, I wrote my essay and entered it along with thousands of others to Kraft. I did not win the big prize of a concert, but what I did learn was this: We as a family are doing a good thing for others, we are giving back all the love and support we have gained from our family and community, it is an endless task of love and dedication. Someone at a Compassionate Friends meeting one evening asked me, "why do you keep doing the event, doesn't it wear you out to keep putting this event on year after year, all the energy and time you put into it, is it worth it?" Honestly, it is, and the reason deep in my heart is this, If my son were still here I could spend all the time in the world doing things with him, but he isn't here, so once a year, I get to dedicate my whole self to something I deeply believe in, I get to embrace others who have lost a child, I get to bring folks to the park to do all the things we as a family enjoy doing, I get to see young families play together and just enjoy life, and then as I release my balloon along with all the others to heaven, I can truly sense that I will be OK because my son is Home and I have again brought a smile to many faces and embraced life in Lucan, my home.
I would like to welcome you to attend our 9th annual Captain Dan event May 15-16 at Lucan City park. www.captaindanfundays.com has all the details of weekend.
Captain Dan Dream Team Inc.