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Linda Naef, the emcee of the Victor 4th of July parade, poses with her grandson Caden before he heads to the rodeo with his dad. 

Pine Needle Embroidery owner is the mouthpiece of the Victor parade

Linda Naef doesn’t remember the first year she was the announcer at the 4th of July parade in Victor, but she’s only missed doing it one year since then.

Naef, who owns and operates Pine Needle Embroidery on Aspen Street, was born here, with one parent from Jackson and one parent from Teton Valley.

“I’m not aware of the state line,” she said. “I’m one of the last people here with those roots.”

Naef loves announcing the parade because of its importance to the community.

“Any time you have people 20 deep on the sides you know it’s an event,” she said. “I have a good time doing it and it’s my way of giving back.”

She doesn’t spend a minute of preparation time before arriving at the corner of Center and Main Street to announce. She just plays it by ear and stays quick on her feet, asking trivia questions about the valley to the crowds when they get restless before the parade, anything from the elevation of Victor to the first sheriff of Teton County or the most recent rodeo champion. Then she’ll read from a stack of papers as each float cruises by, although sometimes the papers get mis-shuffled and she has to wing it.

“Fortunately I know most people around here,” she said. “Between [fellow announcer] Ira Koplow and I, we have it pretty well covered.”

Some of Naef’s favorite parade regulars include Matthew Finnegan as Uncle Sam on stilts and Kim Keeley with her huckleberry milkshake costumes. She enjoys the radiant rainbow-colored skirts of the Folklorico dancers and the flower- and shrub-festooned floats of local landscaping companies.

She added that city deputy clerk Cari Golden is a driving force behind the scenes of the parade.

“Cari works really hard on it and doesn’t get near the praise she deserves,” Naef said.

She does wish the sound system, generously provided by Pierre’s Playhouse, was better—her words barely reach past Festive Living or down to the Brakeman Grill.

“We do what we can with what we have,” she said. “Fortunately I have a big mouth and a loud voice. I used to announce at roping. I’m a farm girl, so I learned on 40 acres to yell at the guy to turn the irrigation pump off from across the fields.”

Her primary concern during the parade is that a child will get hurt while darting into the street after candy.

“It’s the parents’ responsibility to pay attention to their kids and their safety, or there won’t be candy throwing allowed anymore,” she said. “There have been close calls. I hate watching that. My heart does a thud thud every time. I’m so worn out that I beeline it for home after the parade.”

Another concern Naef has is that she might let slip a swear word or two during an announcement.

“I was born and raised swearing,” she said. “I like to swear and I’m good at it. My big fear is that I’ll swear and I don’t want to offend anyone.”

When she’s not out there being the voice of Victor, Naef is in her embroidery shop, a big room with whirring machines and walls lined with colorful spools of thread. She started the business in 2003 after a back injury ended her construction career.

“I wanted to do something new that wasn’t happening in the community,” she said.

The recession hit hard and Naef lost most of her staff, but she clambered her way back to success with the help of a new hire, Lisa Foster, who is now an essential asset to the business.

“It’s fun working with colors and creativity,” Naef said. “We handle every piece ourselves and we’re all about quality not quantity. I can’t compete with the Internet, but I can say once we’re your partner we’re in your hip pocket until the job is out the door.”

Pine Needle Embroidery sponsors the fair and the rodeo and offers discounts on work for other youth organizations such as the ski clubs on both sides of the pass.

“I support whatever the kids are involved in,” she said. “They’re our future.”

Naef has suggested a parade code of conduct that she would like to see attendees follow.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Respect other people’s reserved spots and don’t stand in front of senior citizens; they want to be able to see the parade too.
  • Don’t bring politics into it. Naef was very displeased to hear about adults throwing candy back at kids on the Republican float last year. “Those kids didn’t know or care what float they were on, they were just excited to be in the parade,” she said. “If you can’t act like a respectful adult, find a different parade.”
  • Honor the veterans.
  • Get to know other members of the community by attending the flag ceremony, breakfast, and craft fair.
  • “And again, parents, please, watch your children,” Naef reiterated.

The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. in Victor on July 4.

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