Grand marshals Mark and Charla Koeppe wave during Saturday morning's Grand Parade. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

The route through local streets may have changed and the start time’s temperature turned out to be much cooler than what’s been experienced in recent years but the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Grand Parade Saturday morning maintained the familiar small-town feel that appeals to a lot of residents.

That includes two familiar faces sitting in a convertible as the parade’s grand marshals — Mark and Charla Koeppe.

Both have long histories with the Frolic whether it was Charla serving as secretary or Mark organizing traffic detours that needed to be in place.

“(Former longtime organizers) Ken and Carol Stueve hooked me into doing that and enjoyed it. I stayed for a few years after they left and then life was too busy,” said Charla, mother to four children, including twin daughters, and Miller Timber employee who puts in 50-hour work weeks.

“I remember the Frolic when it was the carnival,” she added, thinking back, “and we used to have the junior court and senior court competitions.”

As a matter of fact, Charla Hood won the 1974 Philomath Frolic Junior Queen title when she was age 11, beating out Sheri Davis, Sandi Lamberty, Susan Melland and Cindy Spradling for the honors.

“The brown-eyed, ash-blonde miss was crowned by the 1973 junior queen, Wendy Chapman, during ceremonies May 23 at Philomath Middle School,” a newspaper article reported in June 1974.

Mark, meanwhile, ended up in law enforcement and this past December retired after 28 years. He was hired on as a full-time officer in 1994.

“I’ve never been in the parade,” Mark said about a half-hour before the parade got started Saturday morning. “I’ve been the guy in charge of detours for the last 28 years but had never been in it.”

The Philomath Frolic and Rodeo’s Grand Parade Saturday featured around 70 entries. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Both Mark and Charla were 21 when they got married in 1984 and soon after moved from Corvallis to Philomath. In fact, next month, they’ll celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary.

Charla grew up in Philomath, the daughter of Vernon and May Hood, and sister to Larry Hood. She graduated with Philomath High’s Class of 1981. Mark was a Corvallis boy and earned his diploma that same year from Corvallis High.

Both have been involved for several years in the community. Mark served as a reserve officer for eight years and one year as a part-timer. He was a Philomath Fire and Rescue volunteer and served on the City Council for a short stretch in the early 1990s until he became a city employee and could no longer serve.

Over the years through his roles with Philomath Police, he’s been the longtime organizer of Safety Town and the Bike Rodeo and has also been teaching a local Hunter Education Safety course.

After retiring from the police department, he signed on as a reserve. So when the Bike Rodeo occurred a few weeks back, Mark was there to help — and to work with police officer Blake Bowers, who will be taking over the responsibility. He will also be involved with Safety Town in August and continues to lead the hunter safety course.

Mark had plans to help with this year’s parade.

“I would have helped until Chris (Workman) called and said, ‘hey, you’re going to be the grand marshal.’”

Charla’s life in Philomath included those years volunteering for the Frolic and Rodeo but also as a longtime city councilor. She served from 2005-14 and in 2017-18. She continues to be involved on the Pioneer Connect Board of Directors.

“We’ve got the wave,” Charla chuckled as the couple got ready to go choose the grand marshal winner for the parade. “We had a babysitter once that told us ‘elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist.’”

Frolic and Rodeo Parade Chair Drew Anderton said this year’s event had right around 70 entries. The parade headed north up South 19th from Chapel Drive to Applegate Street for its longest stretch. It then went west on Applegate, south on South 15th and west on Cedar Street to South 13th and into the rodeo grounds.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.