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Local march to promote peace and community

Marchers meet the first Saturday of the month under the Hudson arch to march in support of a message of support for everyone in the community. In the center of the photo are Pastor Paul Deziel's daughters Adeline and Etta who often participate. Their brother Henry is in the stroller next to them. The girls attend Rock Elementary.1 / 5
Waiting for a green light to cross at Second and Vine streets, Paul Deziel, driving the stroller, says their message is a positive one of tolerance and inclusion, something most people can get behind no matter what their political persuasion. (photos by Meg Heaton)2 / 5
It was a family affair for mother and daughter Beth Stidham and Bev Hoppe.3 / 5
Tom Hoheisel, left, and others believe they are spreading an important, non-partisan message.4 / 5
Heather Ingram of Hudson added her voice to the march through downtown Hudson on Saturday.5 / 5

There were two parades in downtown Hudson last weekend — one to celebrate the annual Hot Air Affair and another to promote peace and advocate for an inclusive community.

The march has been taking place on the first Saturday of the month along Second Street most months since November. Loosely organized, participants have numbered from a dozen or so, to more than 30, carrying signs and messages meant to welcome, encourage and support those who may not feel welcome in the current political climate.

The quasi-leader of the group is Paul Deziel, youth minister at Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale, Minn., and who lives with his wife and four children in Hudson. He stresses that the march is not political but more about being sure that people, regardless of their religion, race or beliefs know they are welcome in Hudson. The marchers participating Saturday believed the recent travel ban imposed on seven predominantly Muslim countries made their message more important than ever.

Deziel said that message is one of tolerance and acceptance. “It isn’t about our differences but what we share as human beings that matters. We all want people to feel welcome in Hudson and accepted for who they are.”

Deziel believes that diversity is what built the nation. “Immigrants built our nation. Diversity is about as American as it gets. We have always been and hopefully will always be a country that loves and embraces everyone. That isn’t a partisan issue. That’s who we are as Americans.”

The participants ranged in age from Deziel’s 3-year-old son Henry to 83-year-old Pat Caponi of Hudson with millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers filling in the gaps. Nancy Parlin of Hudson, a retired UW-River Falls sociology professor, said she marched because she “needed to.”

“We need to stand up for compassion and justice. I marched against the Iraq war for years. This is something we have to take a stand on,” said the 82-year-old.

Jill Kivi and her family live in Hudson as well and she works for the Hudson School District. She and retired elementary teacher Kathy Roberts were also among the marchers. Kivi said she is particularly concerned about anti-immigration sentiment by the country’s leadership.

Roberts, who has a Vietnamese daughter, is concerned about the fate of the country’s immigrant population and about the misinformation that is spread as if it is fact.

During Saturday’s march, numerous drivers passing honked their horns in what appeared to be support for the marchers. Deziel said that while occasionally they will get a negative hand gesture from some drivers, there have been more supportive responses than negative.

The next march will take place at 10 a.m. March 4. Participants meet under the Hudson arch in Lakefront Park. Marchers can bring their own signs or carry one of those provided by other marchers.

For more information contact Deziel at pdeziel@guardian-angels.org or go online at westandforlove.org.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604
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