Dink and Dave Rife used to walk the parade route clutching lawn chairs, but this year they will be driven in style as grand marshals of the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Parade.
“We were surprised and flattered,” said Dink during a recent interview. “It’s an honor to be selected in this community.”
The Rifes have been part of the Graeagle community since 1997, but they have been Plumas County residents since 1964 when they moved to Portola.
That’s where Dave taught and coached at the high school for 30 years and the couple raised their two daughters, Robin and Renee. Dink also worked in the Portola schools and with the Plumas County Probation Department.
But now they are retired, which doesn’t mean that they aren’t busy. The Rifes have always been involved in their communities — volunteering for EPCAN food pantry, White Sulphur Springs Ranch restoration, Project Santa Claus and the Neighborhood Watch Program, to name just a few joint projects.
They were both instructors for the school ski program in Johnsville for 32 years and Dave was its program director for 10 years.
Dink is also involved with Hard Core Hikers, Eastern Plumas Health Care Advisory Council, Mohawk Community Resource Center and the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Committee.
“I must have missed a meeting,” Dink said of the latter — the meeting when she and Dave were selected as grand marshals.
The couple volunteers together, with Dink describing it as the perfect working relationship.
“I’m the more high-profile person,” she said. “He’s my silent partner.”
Together they will be spearheading the effort to collect donations for the fireworks from around the mill pond. Dink said that it’s a lot of fun and people are more than willing to contribute.
Though they will be working hard in the hours leading up to the fireworks this Saturday, when dusk falls, the Rifes and their family will have a front row seat — their house faces the mill pond.
Their house also will be home base for the three-day celebration. “Having all the kids around — our friends and family — that’s what the Fourth means to us,” Dink said.
Their children grew up going to the parade and now their grandchildren enjoy the annual event. A couple of years ago their grandchildren joined them in the Graeagle Tennis Club’s Lawn Chair Brigade.
For 12 years, Dink choreographed the crowd-pleasing group that would alternately walk and perform with their lawn chairs. “I’m willing to make a fool of myself,” Dink said, and hopes that she can entice her hiking group to walk in the brigade next year.
This year the Rifes’ two 16-year-old grandsons will be driving their parade vehicle, while their 13-year-old granddaughter rides along.
The Rifes enjoy sharing the patriotic holiday with their grandchildren and Dink said that she believes every small town is known for a special celebration.
“For Graeagle, that special event is the Fourth of July,” Dink said. She credits the West family and the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Celebration Committee for making the event the success that it is.
“There are about 30 people on that committee; it is the best I have ever served on,” Dink said. “There is a lot to do, but we all pull together. It’s a fabulous celebration for a unique town.”
As for the Wests, the Rifes said that the family makes the event possible by providing the mill pond and park area for the festivities, as well as the personnel necessary to set up and clean up.
The public is invited to join the celebration, which begins with a street dance Friday night. For a complete listing of events, see the Regional section of this newspaper.
To see Dink and Dave Rife as parade grand marshals, go to downtown Graeagle Sunday. The parade begins at 1 p.m., but the festivities get under way at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast.