Nebraska City’s biggest festival draws between 60,000 to 80,000 typically and Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce Executive Director Tim Pendrell estimates those numbers should be about that for this year’s 47th Annual AppleJack Festival.
One of the biggest events is the free AppleJack Parade along Central Avenue. Parade participants will begin lining up at 16th Street and will walk east along Central Avenue to 6th Street. Central Avenue will be barricaded for the parade, which begins at 1 p.m.
Pendrell said the presentation of the colors will lead the parade, followed by local fire and rescue vehicles. He said the fire and rescue vehicles usually lead a parade in case they need to get to the scene of an emergency.
Bruce and Peg Kreifels of Nebraska City will also head the parade as this year’s grand marshals. Pendrell said the Kreifels were chosen to be the grand marshals because they built the new Three Hills Event Center north of Nebraska City.
“So they’re being honored for the commitment that they’ve put in for building a really incredible amphitheater for Nebraska City,” Pendrell said. “They did it because they thought that it would be good for the community.
“Here you have a private citizen who just went in and tried to do something good for the community with his own money,” he added.
Pendrell said normally between 15 to 20 bands compete in the parade. In the 2014 AppleJack Parade, he said there were 11 or 12 that competed. As of Aug. 26, 18 had signed up so far to participate.
“That’s probably more than we’ve had in quite a few years,” he said. “It’s rebounded probably to where it was about four to five years ago and there’s still time for more bands to sign up.”
Pendrell said the parade will feature most of the bands that are normally competing in the parade.
Bands will march down Central Avenue and will be judged on timing, marching and other official requirements by three or four judges that are sitting on a riser to watch the parade.
Pendrell said most of the bands are from southeast Nebraska with a few being from Iowa and Missouri. One of the biggest bands is from Blair, who Pendrell said brings in about 5,000 band participants and visitors.
He said in years past, the bands have been scattered throughout the parade. This year, however, the bands will be moved up in the line-up because the Nebraska Cornhuskers will battle the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium at 2:30 p.m.
“This year I think we’ll try to push the bands up a little bit and group them a little tighter, which will be neat if you’re watching it because it’ll be just band after band after band,” Pendrell said. “We’re going to try to get them through (the parade) by 2:30 so that anybody who wants to watch the game can do that. It’s not fair to the bands too if 30 percent of your audience is gone because of a football game.”
Pendrell said the bands don’t have to pay the typical $20 registration fee to compete in this year’s parade. In fact, noone has to pay the registration fee to enter the parade.
He added a few of bands have contacted NCTC to request for Pendrell’s help in arranging for band members to stop at some of the other weekend AppleJack festivities going on as well.
Pendrell said the parade will be about two hours long. This year’s parade theme is “Bushels of Fun” and most of the floats will reflect the theme. The parade will wrap up with some of the last-minute sign-ups.
Hard rainfall hit Nebraska City the morning of the parade in 2014, which rushed water down many of Nebraska City’s main streets. Luckily, the sun peeked out from the clouds just in time for the parade. One perk this year is that the Huskers’ game is away meaning that people won’t be rushing to Lincoln to watch the football game like two years ago.
“I think there’s going to be a pretty big crowd at the parade. I think it will look normal,” Pendrell said. “We’re hoping that we can maintain a good flow and keep everybody moving through and that we put it in good order so that some of the slower stuff is moving through first.”
Pendrell said the annual Arbor Day parade is smaller than the AppleJack Parade because there are more parade entrants. NCTC has to stretch out the Arbor Day Parade and speed up the AppleJack Parade.
He said the AppleJack Parade will look the same as it has in the past, however, Pendrell boasts that the parade hosts the most Shriners than others in the state.
Pendrell said someday perhaps he would love to end the parade a little differently.
“We should end it like the Macy’s (Thanksgiving Day) Parade, but instead of ending it with Santa Claus it should end with J. Sterling Morton … saying, ‘Stay tuned for Arbor Day,’ and then (a banner) should have the Arbor Day date,” he said.