With the return of June Jubilee, Wadena residents Luther and Marilyn Nervig are stepping into the role of grand marshals for the parade on June 10.
“It was like a total surprise,” Marilyn said about receiving the honor. After the surprise, “I was very pleased to be asked,” Luther said. “It was a … nice recognition that we have been a part of this community.”
The two have been involved in the community since the month they moved to Wadena in 1967. Both have formed and lead organizations and foundations that have, and will, benefit the community for years.
Marilyn served as the first president of the Wadena Mrs. Jaycees, president of the 20th Century organization, volunteered with middle and high school students in the Operation Aware program, organized musical groups and helped with Sunday School and confirmation for 28 years at Immanuel Lutheran Church, directed the Madcaps theatre program and became a hospice volunteer for 10 years. She also taught as an art teacher at the elementary school and then a substitute teacher.
When different interests of their three daughters came up, Marilyn used the mentality of “if it’s going to happen you’ve got to do it yourself,” whether she knew much about the activities or not. She formed baton, dance, figure skating and gymnastics programs.
“My main focus has been if there was something not here in Wadena that I knew my kids would want, I made a point of making it happen, and so it not only helped my kids but all the other kids who got to be in on it too,” Marilyn said.
"It’s just fun to be doing something that helps other people."
— Marilyn Nervig
Luther joined the Wadena Rotary Club in 1968, served on the Wesley Hospital Board from 1970 to 2010, runs the Wadena Parks Foundation and the J. Harold and Edythe Peterson Family Foundation which fund projects in the community, started scholarships at the school and has fundraised for Wadena’s first hockey arena, the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center and now the new library. He serves on the Tri-County Health Care Foundation board and the Community First Bank and Wadena State Bank boards. He also owned a law office in town.
He says one of the best ways retired people can spend their time is by volunteering. He was first inspired down this path-along with his many previous years of volunteering-by jewelry store owner Ray Brink and high school principal Bill Larson.
“When those guys retired, they just jumped right into community involvement and anytime there was something going on those people were working on it,” Luther said. “And I thought what a better thing to do when you retire. So I’m chugging along pretty fast.”
With all of their volunteering and fundraising efforts, Luther says “it’s really fulfilling.”
“It’s just fun to be doing something that helps other people,” Marilyn said.
They hope the younger generations will get involved too in the many opportunities.
“One of the big concerns is we don’t see the younger generation stepping up,” Luther said. “Small towns depend on volunteers. If you want to have a viable small community like Wadena, people have to step up and volunteer.”
Along with their friends in town and the welcoming community, Wadena has been made their home because of “Longevity. Deep roots. A full basement that would just be too much trouble to empty out,” Marilyn said with a laugh. She also enjoys seeing people around town, more open space, the quick trip to the grocery store and no traffic.
The Nervigs have a long history with the June Jubilee parade, too, from before the events were called June Jubilee. “We’ve been involved in the parade forever,” as Luther said. Their daughters also walked in the parade multiple years.
When community members decided they needed a parade, Luther and Dale Macklanburg became parade chairmans through the Jaycees. They even featured jet fliers during the parade.
“We brought in a great big steam engine … and they fired that up and we drove it right down the main street. I still get excited thinking about that big steamer,” Luther said about one of the parades.
They usually watched the parade in front of Luther’s law office next to the courthouse, where many people joined for the front row seat and cold pop from their refrigerator.
“The minute you say parade, I just remember being at your (Luther’s) office always, and with lots of other people,” Marilyn said.
Marilyn and Luther said they are thankful for the people who keep the parade going each year. And for this year’s festivities, the two hope for a band.
Here is the schedule for the 2021 activities:
Thursday, June 10
Hamburger fry at the Wadena VFW from 4:30-7 p.m. in the parking lot. Head to the streets for the parade at 7 p.m.
Friday, June 11
Enjoy your favorite breakfast foods at the Town & Country Breakfast from 7-10 a.m. at Burlington Northern Park. The Hoot & Toot, which showcases area law enforcement and emergency personnel and vehicles, is from 9-11 a.m. in the Super One or Depot parking lot.
The Sunnybrook Stomp 5K run/walk begins at 6:30 p.m. Online registration is open. Same-day is also available.
Fireworks at the Wadena County Fairgrounds at dusk.
Saturday, June 12
Youth breakfast at Sunnybrook Park from 9-10 a.m. followed by the free youth fishing tournament from 10 a.m. to noon as a part of Family Fun Day. Kids can eat for free at the breakfast.
City-wide garage sales are also happening Thursday through Saturday.