'Big mouth' can't say enough about parade

July 05, 2001 12:00 am
Jack Gyllenberg doesnt pull any punches when he announces the Fourth of July parade in Haines, a job he has handled for 10 years. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Jack Gyllenberg doesnt pull any punches when he announces the Fourth of July parade in Haines, a job he has handled for 10 years. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).


Of the Baker City Herald

Announcing just came natural to me, says Jack Gyllenberg, who has announced the Haines Fourth of July Parade for the past 10 years.

I guess I got into it because they needed somebody with no brains and a big mouth.

Gyllenberg, 77, started the parade this year by shouting, Help! Wheres our papers?

As the police car that signified the beginning of the parade rolled in front of the flatbed truck Gyllenberg was announcing from, he yelled to the crowd, Alright, one of you guys shoot somebody so we can wait for the papers.

Within a few minutes Gyllenberg received the parade lineup information he was calling for and the show began.

Gyllenberg was born and raised in Baker City and has announced at rodeos, parades, 4-H shows, old-hands contests and dances in the Haines and Baker City area for the past 20 years.

Gyllenberg said the depression kept his family on the move. They moved from Baker to live in Arlington, Salem, Silverton, Ore. and Seattle, Wash. Gyllenberg settled in Baker City after serving in the military.

I got started a long time ago, Gyllenberg explained. I got used to the microphone when I had a dance band from 1948 to 1960. It was called the Jack Gyllenberg Band; we changed the name every once in a while. We performed all around, in Baker, Weiser, Union, Fruitland.

Gyllenberg has had several career choices besides announcing. Ive done everything from truck lines to block plants to logging, everything.

Gyllenberg said he announces because of the people who attend and organize the events.

Theres a lot of good people that are really on the ball. Its a real get -together and so many people just work their heads off, Gyllenberg said. Ive put in some long days and I get real hoarse, but I enjoy doing it. People like to be recognized.

Once in a while I get the wrong name or car or year, he admitted, but people dont get too irate. I just guess and theres usually somebody around that will holler the right information.

I hit hard sometimes and I pick on a few people to harass, but nobody has really got angry, he added. They just laugh and like the attention.

Gyllenberg said he does not have any special pre-announcing rituals.

I just get down there early, be sure stuff is set up and plugged in and faced the right way and as long as I dont fall through the wagon floor, it will all go fine, he said. I just have to make sure that I know which way theyre coming from and make sure that they dont go by to fast.

Gyllenberg has never actually fallen through the floor of the wagon, and this year, instead of a wagon, he announced from the back of a flatbed truck. His daughter, Elissa Morrison, helped him recognize the parade floats in the correct order.

Gyllenberg said he does not get nervous when he announces, but he used to.

The first time he announced was at a rodeo in Haines. I had no intentions of being an announcer. I got a call from Franklin McCullough and he said were in trouble, the rodeo guy backed out, so I did it. I was a little nervous but the girls doing the timing helped out and made it really easy.

Gyllenbergs favorite parade displays are the teams of horses.

It would be nice if there were more bands like there used to be, he said. You never know whats going to come along, whats going to be funny. I just hope there arent any stampedes or wrecks. Sometimes the train will come through, too.

The train did come through and the parade finished in less than an hour without any complications.

Gyllenberg said, I really like seeing such a small community get a lot done, with the parade, the food and the band. Its fun to be a part of the old time families, the 100 year names.

God willing, Id like to be back next year. I like the work.