Oltrogges will lead Mt. Pleasant parade as grand marshals

After years of public service in their hometown of Mt. Pleasant, Jim and Coleen Oltrogge will be honored as the grand marshals of the Mammoth Parade on July 3.

MT. PLEASANT—For more than a decade, Jim and Coleen Oltrogge have played a central role in organizing and implementing city events in town and now the couple is being honored as grand marshals in the Mammoth Parade on July 3.

The Oltrogges will be front and center at the parade, which starts at 11:30 a.m. The route has been changed and will now start on 300 North and State Street, and traverse south along State Street to 700 South.

Jim and Coleen moved from Arvada, Colo.to Mt. Pleasant in 2004. Not long after they arrived, Coleen started looking around to see how she could help.

“I knew I needed to do something,” she said. “I’d been doing public affairs in Colorado, so I was used to organizing events and wanted to help.”

One day, she saw an ad in the paper soliciting candidates for the Mt. Pleasant City Council so she went to the city building and signed up. Coleen was elected to the council in 2005 and served for eight years.

During her tenure, Coleen worked with the library board and oversaw the renovation and rededication of the library. She was instrumental in starting a teacher appreciation program at North Sanpete High School and Wasatch Academy. She also mentored the Mt. Pleasant Youth City Council and organized trips to Salt Lake City each year.

Coleen was in charge of city celebrations, including the Easter egg hunt, Hub City Days, and the city’s post-Thanksgiving lighting ceremony.

After she retired from the council, Coleen continued to serve by organizing city events and mentoring the Youth City Council until she stepped down last year.

Jim served as backup support for all of the activities Coleen was involved with. “He would carry stuff, load stuff, unload stuff, it went on and on. He did tons,” said Coleen.

Jim’s activities varied with the season and the celebration. He made around 60 gallons of hot chocolate for the lighting ceremony each year and helped the Mammoth Parade run smoothly on the Fourth of July.

When Coleen was first elected to the city council, there was a small Christmas lighting tradition in Mt. Pleasant, but it wasn’t well attended. One night, Coleen had a dream where she saw a vision of a lighting ceremony on Main Street in her hometown. 

The next day, she asked Mayor Chesley Christensen if she could start planning the lighting ceremony to open the Christmas season.

“He said you won’t get even 100 people out, but do what you want,” said Coleen.

Because Coleen recalled children singing in her dream, one of the first things she did was contact Linda Barker, music leader at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School. Coleen was turned down several times but she wouldn’t give up—she wanted each class to sing two songs as part of the lighting ceremony. Linda finally agreed to that daunting task and went to work. The class choirs turned out to be very popular, bringing 1,200 people to the event the first year.

Among the many events Coleen organized, that first lighting ceremony is one that stands out from the rest. “I’ll never forget that because miracles happened,” she said.

Coleen said she was well acquainted with a family in town that had been experiencing financial hardship. The day of the lighting ceremony, the family had visited a store in Utah County and their daughter, age 4, found a stuffed animal in the store, fell in love and started asking her mother to buy it for her. 

Her mom said, “I’m sorry we can’t—we can’t get this. We cannot afford it.” This little girl became so upset. Well, she came to the activity and they were so excited because everything was free, and she saw that same stuffed animal with all of the toys bought for the ceremony.

And the little girl said, “Mom that’s mine, that’s mine, I know it’s mine” and her mom said, “No, that’s whoever’s number is picked. It isn’t yours.” And she tried telling her and that little girl was so upset and she started crying. But they called out numbers, and whose number did they draw? They drew her Mom’s number. 

It was little things like that, said Coleen, that made the event so meaningful. She recalls being approached by a young mother in tears because her four small children wanted to go on the hayride and she didn’t think she could afford to pay for all her children. After Coleen assured her that there was no cost for the hayride, she saw those children riding over and over again. 

As years passed and attendance increased at the city lighting ceremony each year, Coleen’s dream of seeing the town celebrating together became reality.

She recalled, “Once a man came up to me during the lighting celebration and said, ‘I thought I’d stay home tonight and watch a Hallmark movie, but I decided to come and be in one instead.’”