By STEPHANIE BUNKER
Moapa Valley Progress
May Day is a very long-held tradition that brings the families in Moapa Valley together to celebrate our young children in Elementary School.
Grant M. Bowler Elementary celebrated its annual May Day Festival at the Clark County Fairgrounds on Friday May 5 with the line up of traditional dances that both kids and crowd look forward to.
The event has been held every year during the first week of May for over 102 years. Logandale resident Corinne Messer sent an old picture to Principal Shawna Jesson that was of her grandmother Bertha Shurtliff dancing at May Day in 1915.
Several of Bertha’s great great grandchildren were participating in the dancing last Friday night, carrying on this annual community tradition.
The school’s 5th graders began the festival by braiding the Maypole. The students weaved in and out creating a beautiful ribbon pattern on the pole.
The kids braided the pole first, then they had a parent join them to braid it again together.
Logandale resident Lindsey Dalley, grandson of Shurtliff, fondly recalls participating in this tradition as a child. He remembered the ribbons being tattered and dirty when they practiced. But then-principal, Grant Bowler, desired perfection and insisted that the ribbons be cleaned and ironed before the big show.
Many of the younger classmen still look forward to the day when they can braid the Maypole as well.
Messer recalled such feelings when she was young, “I figured, when I was old enough to braid the Maypole, it meant I was very grown up!” she said. “We braided it in 6th grade, since it was part of the elementary then. And, May Day my 6th grade year was the first time I could wear pantyhose!”
On Friday night, after the Maypole was braided, the 5th graders had another performance: a dance they call Tinkling. Two kids, holding the ends of two long poles close to the ground, pound out a beat and clap the poles together while two other kids dance in and out of the poles to the rhythm.
After the 5th graders, the show went to the youngest kids in the school: the Early Childhood program. These youngsters walked out on stage in their workout gear and danced to Eye of the Tiger.
Another fun tradition is for the Kindergarteners, who perform the Parachute Dance. They lift the parachutes high in the air and then pop inside of the parachute and out of sight from the crowd, they also create a big mushroom with their chute. In between doing tricks with the parachute they busted out a short dance to “Kids of the Future.”
The 1st graders came out in their poodle skirts and other 50’s style outfits to dance to “Yakity Yak.”
Second graders were next, dressed ready for the Mexican Hat Dance.
Third graders have traditionally done a square dance and this year was no exception. The little cowfolk performed the Heel-toe Polka.
Stephanie Viers a 3rd grade teacher, and new to Bowler, was excited to be part of the May Day tradition. “The kids worked hard and did excellent! This is a busy but good production and the kids were ready for tonight.”
The final performance, and one of the most popular with the kids, is the 4th grade 70’s dance, “Stayin’ Alive.” Decked out in groovy gear the 4th graders boogied all over the stage.
Historically, the 4th grade dance wasn’t always so groovy, but it was still fun! Corinne Messer has fond memories of dancing the Virginia Reel.
The Bowler PTO takes part in the fun with doing a basket raffle. The parents donate items to put in the baskets which all have different themes. This year they had enough donations to create 16 baskets. During the show Principal Shawna Jesson drew tickets for the baskets.
“We really appreciate the community support,” said PTO Co-chair Shelby Turner. “There were a lot of people that came early to purchase tickets.”