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Cat Square residents remember term

They don’t preside over City Council meetings or hold public hearings.
You won’t see them clutching large scissors at a ribbon-cutting event.
And, no, there won’t even be political signs bearing their names.
But the mayor of Cat Square does have a major responsibility and it’s one that only a serious Cat Square resident can pull off — presiding over the annual Christmas Parade.
Entries of all shapes, sizes, ages and breeds wind through western Lincoln County during the parade that’s known well beyond the county line. This year’s parade kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.
Every year on a Saturday before the parade, residents head over to the Cat Square Superette to cast their ballots for mayor.
The elected mayor gets to ride in a fancy car and don dressy duds for his or her day in the spotlight. Waving to adoring fans and chucking candy to kids are also requirements.
Since the first parade in 1974, Cat Square has produced a lot of politicians. Some have been popular enough to serve more than one term.
Gladys Sain, who spearheads the parade each year, was first elected in 1976, then reelected in 1977 and 1978.
“People still call me mayor,” she said. “It was just a grand time for me the three years I was mayor.”
The main qualification for elections is being a member of the Cat Square community; preferably for a long time.
Over the years there’s been a wide variety of mayors — from a doctor to a chicken farmer. But there’s one thing they all have in common.
“The common thread would be that they have
contributed their genuine care for the friends and family of the Cat Square
community,” said Jamie Houser, who helps organize the parade each year.
Hazel Sain, elected in 1986, said she liked getting spiffed up and sitting atop a brand new convertible.
“I never get dressed up much,” she said. But during her mayoral debut, she wore navy pants, a white sleeveless sweater and a light blue, long sleeve blazer.
Some go even further by getting decked out in a top hat and tails. And others have put their own spin on their big public appearance.
Clay Leatherman, who served as mayor last year, said he’s always enjoyed watching the other mayors during the parade. One of the most memorable was Hal Wood, who brought with him an entourage of people serving as guards in 1989. They were dubbed “Hal’s Angels.”
“I just remember that from years ago,” Leatherman said.
Sometimes the parade provides a brush with fame.
In 1984, Ronnie Sain met a United States congressman, and in 1991, Larry “Butch” Sain met retired NASCAR driver Ned Jarrett.
“I made him an honorary citizen,” he said.
Both 1995 mayor Joe Williams and 2002 mayor Farrel Johnson said they enjoyed taking part in such a long-standing Cat Square tradition.
“It’s a good thing for the community,” said Buddy Sain, who was elected in 1982.
And it doesn’t just affect the immediate area. Many visitors to the parade take home memories and share them with others. Word about the parade — and Cat Square — has even traveled across the country.
Larry “Butch” Sain, the mayor in 1991, had a friend from Arizona visit during the parade. After returning home, the friend called Sain to report seeing one of Sam Sain’s — mayor in 1979 and 2003 — tractor trailers traveling down the interstate.
“No matter where you go, people recognize the Cat Square parade,” Sam Sain said.
For other former mayors, the parade evokes memories of their community.
Barbara Jean Sain Houser remembers going to Cat Square, where the current Superette now stands, and seeing Stella Sain testing cream when she was a little girl.
The store there at the time was called Sain and Sain Grocery and it had “a little bit of everything,” Houser said.
One of its biggest draws was a television — one of the first in the area.
What makes the parade special for many is the fact anyone can participate in it. Registration isn’t required, except for horses and ATVs, and there’s no planned order. You just show up and line up.
Nancy Beam, 2001’s mayor, remembers seeing 87-year-old Lois Shull get a last minute ride in Sonny Sain’s roadster.
“She just hopped in the seat and went through Cat Square,” Beam said. “It was the thrill of her life.”
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Want to go? The Cat Square Parade starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. It starts at Cat Square and Zur Leonard roads, and ends at Cat Square and Bill Sain roads.
Elections for mayor and voting for Little Miss Cat Square (kindergarten to age 7) and Miss Cat Square (ages 8 to 21) will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Superette.
Saturday is also the last day to register horses and ATVs for the parade. Other entries do not have to register — just show up and get in line by 1 p.m.
by Alice Smith

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