Constitutional rights – Northern Mines Business and Professional Women march in parade to encourage voting |

Constitutional rights – Northern Mines Business and Professional Women march in parade to encourage voting

The Union photo/Kathryn RappathNorthern Mines Business and professional Women Shirley Benedick and Donna Hanelin prepare placards for the Constitution Day parade at Lynn Wenzel's home in Nevada City Sunday.
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With this being an election year, Northern Mines Business and Professional Women members were motivated to step up their presence in Sunday’s 38th annual Constitution Day Parade.

“This year is different because voting is so important. We decided to go all out and make this our biggest participation ever,” said Lynn Wenzel, the group’s parade chair. While the group normally attracts about 10 to 20 parade participants, up to 75 members and their friends will march as suffragists down Broad Street this Sunday.

That’s mainly for two reasons, according to Wenzel.

“We’re doing this first of all to raise the consciousness of the importance of women’s history. Secondly, we’d like to remind people of how hard women worked to get the vote (75 years; the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920) and the importance of voting,” Wenzel explained. “Many people sacrificed their time, their families, their money and their lives so that women could vote. We need to honor that sacrifice by voting.”

It’s also a way for the Northern Mines Business and Professional Women to honor today’s female voters, estimated by Wenzel to be 52 percent of the electorate and to possess, in her words, “the power to make change.”

Since April, Wenzel and about 14 other Business and Professional Women members and friends have worked on the parade entry.

“We’re making signs, costumes, sashes that replicate the actual suffragist sashes with purple and gold letters cut out of felt,” she said. Her group is also decorating a vintage automobile and truck with purple bunting and yellow ribbon.

Since it took 36 states to ratify the suffrage amendment in 1920 and that amendment was passed by one vote, Wenzel explained, the group has made 36 signs with each state’s name and and ratification date. In addition, group members have spent their spare time making wrappers that say “we won the vote, now we want pay equity!” to go around Payday candy bars. They’re wrapping hundreds of candy bars to hand out at the parade as a visual statement that women still make 76 cents at a job for which a man makes a dollar.

The marchers won’t be quiet as they stroll down Broad Street.

“We’ll sing authentic suffrage songs written in the late 1800s, accompanied by drum and tambourines. We’ve been working a long time on this,” Wenzel stressed. “We’re going to hand out hundreds of purple bookmarks which say ‘Make your voice heard, remember to vote in November.'”

Even if it wasn’t an election year, Wenzel and her friends would still be walking in the annual event.

“The parade’s fun. It has great energy and spirit; people really get into it and have a great time. It’s also a good opportunity for community organizations to make their presence known,” she added.

If any women would like to march with this group, call Wenzel at 470-0360 by Saturday for information on parade attire.


WHAT: 38th annual Nevada City Constitution Day Parade and Celebration

SATURDAY: Pancake Breakfast from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at Seaman Lodge in Pioneer Park; 13th annual Gold Country Duck Race from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Deer Creek and the foot of Broad Street; Civil War Re-enactments & Living History at 1 and 4 p.m., Pioneer Park off Nimrod Street in Nevada City.

SUNDAY: Civil War Re-enactments & Living History at 11 a.m., Pioneer Park off Nimrod Street in Nevada City; Nevada County Concert Band from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Lower Broad Street; re-enactment of the U.S. Constitution signing from 1:30 to 2 p.m. at Broad and Pine streets; 38th annual Constitution Day Parade at 2 p.m. on Broad Street; Ophir Prison Band in a post-parade concert at about 4 p.m. on Broad Street.

ADMISSION: All events are free.

SHUTTLE: Buses will run from the Nevada County Government Center off of Highway 49 to activities both days. Fares are $1 all day; those in period costumes and anyone under 18 ride for free.

INFORMATION: 265-2692 or online at

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