Parting Shots: When you love it here, there is no ‘the end’
By Josh Johnson
On July 4, 1989, I carried my then 10-month-old brother around Alpine Shores wearing only a diaper.
Clarification: He was wearing only a diaper. (Mike has always been a bit fashion-questionable.) Me? I was the appropriately clad 11-year-old talked into the stunt by longtime Fourth of July parade organizer Annie Tichy. It seems Tichy, a family friend, remembered a speech I had given to my Greenacres Elementary School classmates a couple months prior - a speech that enticed them to elect me ASB president.
First off, I had no business being elected to the school's monkey bar advisory committee, let alone president. (Sister Bri was always the one tasked with making our family look good.) But like fellow jokester George W., I got a little help from Dad and pulled off a surprise victory.
Dad taught me the first rule of campaigning: Know your audience. Enter the diaper. I was trying to get kindergarten through sixth-graders to remember and vote for me. It wasn't going to happen by sharing my opinion of Oliver North.
So I brought Mike up on stage with me, made some reference about how I've loved Greenacres Elementary since I was a baby, and then set the audience up for the big reveal. As we started to walk off stage, Dad swooped in and suspended Mike in the air like a scene from the Lion King - except "Simba" was turned backwards. The swing-voting first-graders enjoyed a front-row seat to a message even they could read. Scrawled on the back of Mike's diaper in thick, black, capital letters: "VOTE FOR JOSH."
Even the life-size teddy bear Jobe Tichy used in his speech while trouncing me in our race for vice president the year before would have had a tough time beating this prop. Looking for a way to woo the elementary-age demographic? Diaper humor.
Jobe's mom, the aforementioned Annie Tichy, was impressed enough by the stunt to ask Mike and I to "bring up the rear" of that 1989 parade. This time, Mike's diaper all too appropriately read, "THE END."
The end. I thought of these words, and the aforementioned story, when corresponding recently with the regular organizers of the Alpine Shores tradition. This year, they are seeking a new coordinator for the festivities. There have been so many amazing people who have made the event possible through the years - Tichy, Dave Graham, Jackie Wills, Cheryl Leavall, Tina Wallingford, Kelli Schneidmiller (just to scratch the surface) - but the tried and true crew is looking for some fresh energy and ideas to be instilled into the Liberty Lake tradition. Some volunteers are still engaged in the roles they've played for years, but others rightfully are taking an opportunity to say last year's parade was "the end" for their service.
It reminds me of several other local traditions that have recently undergone changes.
The Liberty Lake Community Easter Egg Hunt - which I remember being organized by Ray and Karen Ruef when I was a boy and in its more recent manifestation was led by Wendy Van Orman - this year was put together by Van Orman's daughter, Alisha Davis. (By the way, Alisha, you set an insurmountable bar when it comes to weather.)
The Liberty Lake Community Yard Sales, for years led by an able homegrown association, is now in its third year being organized by the Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club.
And after 10 years at the helm, Pat Lutzenberger and Linda Dockrey are passing the leadership baton of the Liberty Lake Elementary School K-Kids club. Kelli Gardner will be stepping into the role next year.
It's been gratifying to see so many great events and organizations live on in our community, even as the people who put them together change over the years. And allow me to reiterate - this is the way it's supposed to be. There should never be a position called "volunteer for life." When that happens, great things come and go dependant upon the cast that supports them. New perspectives and energy are vital to all that is worthwhile and lasting.
Allow this to be an encouragement to Liberty Lake residents to step up. There are many who know the timing is right - that the sideline was fine for a while, but it's time to jump into a role. Help keep this community the dynamic place that it is, a place we can be so proud to call home, because it really feels that way.
The people who perhaps instilled my love for this community the most were my grandparents, Harold and Joan Hughes. They moved to Liberty Lake in the 1950s and embraced life and engagement here - not out of obligation, but out of a genuine love for their hometown.
I was so grateful to the committee that selected them as grand marshals for the 2006 Fourth of July parade because, to me, they epitomized "love of community."
Granny died the following March, and Gramps a couple years later. But thanks to so many like them, the Liberty Lake heritage they participated in of "gathering, recreation and music" lives on - event to event, person to person, generation to generation. No "the end."
Josh Johnson is editor and publisher of The Splash. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.