In a small town in South Dakota, there is only one color that signifies pride, orange. Huron, South Dakota is a larger town in a sea of small farming towns. With a population of only a little over thirteen thousand people, it has the charm of small-town living mixed with some of the amenities of a bigger time. They even have a Walmart.
When I first moved to Huron, I was welcomed with open arms. Every person has a smile on their face and a kind heart. Most of the houses had already been decorated for fall with beautiful orange pumpkins and flowers. People here take pride in how their homes look. On the second week in my new residence, I was shown what the color orange means to the people of Huron.
Huron is the home of the Huron Tigers. In a small community, people will come together for school events with pride. Huron is no different. At the end of the second week of school for my children, all schools were released two hours early. Almost everyone in the town gathered on the lawns facing the main street, Dakota Avenue, and they waited to show their pride.
Homecoming happens within the first few weeks of school due to the weather changes that happen quicker in South Dakota. So, the whole town will gather, wearing their orange, to celebrate the high school football team. The homecoming parade was filled with many different organizations, such as the Lions Club, Little League Football, and the marching band, that were all covered in orange.
When we had first sat down on the lawn next to the local library, I began to notice that all of the children around us had grocery bags or Halloween bags. I smiled and just assumed that these children were being hopeful that they would get a lot of candy from the parade. Once the parade started, I realized quickly that Huron does not skimp on their homecoming pride. They had every single float with multiple people throwing out handfuls of candy. My children, who were at first reluctant to partake in the ritual of pride, were now grabbing fists full of candy with a sense of extreme jubilation.
Being unprepared, I had to offer my pockets to them. As if by divine intervention, the moment I thought our pockets could hold no more delicious treats, a local business began to throw out sports bags. My oldest son is a natural born athlete and caught a bag as if he was catching the winning football at his own homecoming game in five years. We unloaded our pockets into this newly found candy vessel and continued the ritual of grabbing candy as it flew through the air.
I saw, for the first time, a sense of school pride in my children. They were wearing their orange Huron Tiger shirts that we had purchased from a small business downtown earlier in the week. My oldest son has inherited some of my social anxiety and was the one who was putting up the biggest fight when I brought them to the parade. He would have been happier to stay at home, glued to his tablet or the computer. Now, I was seeing my charming child high fiving his friends who were marching in the parade. It was pretty obvious to me that even after such a small time in our new town, my children were fitting in perfectly.
When the parade finished, my children were riding a high of excitement and sugar. My oldest son hugged me and thanked me for making him go to the parade. My younger son screamed that it was the greatest day of his life as he held up all of his bounties. My two daughters were covered in candy and dancing around with pure joy. This small town in South Dakota had managed to do the impossible, give my family a sense of pride in a place they had only lived in for two weeks.
Back in Arkansas, we never had time to do events such as this. The way of life was fast and chaotic. We never lived, worked, and went to school all in the same area. So, our sense of pride never seemed to form out of confused as to who we should feel pride for. My oldest son has been to three different elementary schools by third grade due to moving three times for my husband’s career. We had moved them one last time and now it seems we finally found the right fit for us.
Orange is more than a symbol for the residences of Huron, South Dakota, it is a way of life. A slower, calmer, and more friendly way of life. I now need to buy more orange.