MARION, Kan. (KSNW) – Saturday was Old Settlers Day in Marion, Kansas. This much anticipated event has served as a homecoming for Marion High School graduates for decades. Marion residents have the opportunity to connect with old friends and familiar faces as well as enjoy floats riding through the town. This event happens every five years.
“My husband was born and raised in Marion and we’ve been married for 20 years,” said resident Carol Miesse. “He’s up on one of the oldest floats and we just love the experience and we love Marion; it’s safe here and people really care about each other.”
That sense of camaraderie was seen throughout the town as people, young and old, waved as they rode by on their floats. Some passengers proudly stood alongside their graduating class signs and others held them high in the air for others to see as floats of every size rode by Marion High School.
“This is a tradition,” said one local.
This year, following the controversy of the rainbow parking spot that was covered with tar overnight, there were two new additions to the Settlers Parade. Sasha Mae Carmichael and Holly Mae Day showed up in full drag queen wear, serving high heels and long flowing dresses. Both say they grew up in small towns and both claimed to have experienced a number of crimes against them, after opening up about being gay.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to express myself the way that student did,” said Day. “I was upset when I heard someone covered up his rainbow painting but I was also proud of him for expressing himself.”
Their presence did get a few double takes and stares but some say that’s because Marion has never had any drag queens in the parade, let alone in the town. One mom walked her daughter across the street to educate her on what it means to be gay and to dress in drag.
“Some girls want to be boys and some boys want to be girls and that’s OK,” she explained.
That may have been a hard concept for a kid but for the adults of Marion and the community, it allowed for the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
“In high school they tried to tell me that I couldn’t bring another boy to the prom and when somebody peed in my shoes in the locker room, they did nothing about it,” explained Sasha Mae Carmichael. “I’m here because I don’t want any of these kids to ever have to go through the same things that I went through.”
The hope for both Carmichael and Day was to raise awareness about being different and to hopefully empower people to be comfortable in their own skin.