Halseys to serve as Will Rogers Days Parade Marshals
Pat Reeder Special to the Progress
Four days of activities are planned on Nov. 1-4, to celebrate the 133rd birthday of Will Rogers, acclaimed Oklahoma’s Favorite Son, a prolific writer, top movie and stage star, trick roper, radio broadcaster, world-traveler and philanthropist.
Jim Halsey, award-winning music and entertainment promoter, and his wife, Minisa Crumbo Halsey, daughter of renowned American Indian artist Woody Crumbo, will be marshals for the 4 p.m. for the parade on Nov. 3. It will travel down Will Rogers Boulevard from the Claremore Expo-Recreation parking lot through downtown Claremore. The parade is organized by Claremore’s Reveille Rotary Club.
Events are slated at both the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore and Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oologah, where Will was born Nov. 4, 1879 in then Indian Territory. He died Aug. 15, 1935 in an Alaska plane crash.
“As someone who has had the honor and pleasure of writing about Jim Halsey and his acts for some 30 years, but also co-authoring his two books, I can say unreservedly that he will make a perfect grand marshal for the Will Rogers Days parade this year,” said John Wooley, author and longtime entertainment writer for the Tulsa World.
“During his time on earth Will Rogers brought joy and entertainment to millions of people. He practiced his art on the Broadway stages of New York, the sound stages of Hollywood, and in front of audiences the world over. Into all these situations, he carried the spirit of Oklahoma that he loved.
“Working out of the same state, Jim Halsey created the biggest country-music agency, Tulsa’s Jim Halsey Company. From there, he sent out hundreds of acts to fairs and festivals, clubs and television studios, Las Vegas and Branson, brightening the lives of countless audiences. He was also responsible for one of the best-known goodwill tours of our era. He and his acts, Roy Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys, bravely ventured into the USSR during the height of the Cold War, doing more than their part to help relieve some of the tensions between Russia and America.
“Like Will Rogers,” Wooley went on to say, “Jim Halsey is a beloved Oklahoma entertainment figure. His appearance at the 2012 Will Rogers Days parade will continue a tradition of honoring famous entertainment figures who would ‘ve made Will proud.”
“We are honored to be participating in this parade,” the Halseys said.
Will Rogers’ grandson, Kem Rogers, and his daughter, Jennifer Rogers Etcheverry, are expected to come from California for the celebration.
The first two days focus on children, but traditionally draw a large number of adults.
Thursday is Children’s Day at the Museum (reservations required because of space limitations) when several hundred children will swarm the Museum’s hills and grounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for old fashioned games, music and a Cherokee storyteller.
Friday is the traditional birthday party at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch from 10-11:30 a.m., complete with cake. Entertainment will be by Oologah-Talala school children, directed by Kim Grazier, in an original musical production and champion trick roper Kowboy Kal.
Friday night is Night at the Museum at the Claremore Museum, a ticketed event.
Saturday opens with an Antique and Classic Car Show on the Museum grounds.
Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will pay tribute to Will Rogers on Saturday as they have since the Museum opened Nov. 4, 1938. “Hats Off to Will” begins at 1 pm. in the Will Rogers Memorial Museum Theatre, followed by the club placing a basket of fall foliage in the Museum rotunda and a wreath at the Rogers’ family tomb. It was a tradition of Will Rogers’ mother, Mary, to decorate their ranch home with fall foliage, said Ollie Starr, Pocahontas president. The club and guests will gather for a reception after the ceremonies.
Sunday will finalize the annual celebration, which dates back to Nov. 4, 1938, when the Claremore Museum opened, with dedication of a Commemorative Plaque to be installed on the south wall of the Claremore Museum at 2 p.m. by Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, A.F. & A.M. Will Rogers was a Mason, inducted into the Claremore Lodge, later named Will Rogers Lodge, and was a Shriner. A new Shrine plaque was dedicated last year.