Pauline (left) and Roger Laughnan are this year’s Honorary Citizens for El Paso Days. The Laughnans have lived all their lives in El Paso Township and have been heavily involved in the festivities for many years. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia
Pauline and Roger Laughnan will represent El Paso as the designated honorary citizens for the 31st annual festival, set for Aug. 18-20.
Pauline grew up in the farmhouse in which she and Roger reside. Pauline said the farmhouse is over 100 years old and she only moved off the property for a few years until her parents retired.
Roger, a farmer, grew up a little outside of El Paso, but has always enjoyed the festivities and heavy involvement with the horseshoe teams.
In fact, Roger said horseshoe teams had floats in the parades and had a pretty big competition to see whose float was the best in the early days. Roger still plays on the West El Paso horseshoe team.
Pauline, who has worked in the Ellsworth Community School District for 29 years in food service and as a secretary, said she was "really surprised" when they were selected as the honorary citizens for El Paso Days.
"I don’t think I’ve done anything to be an honorary citizen and they said, ‘You’ve lived here all your life and you’ve farmed,’" Pauline said.
El Paso Days Committee President Merlin Blaisdell said it’s gotten harder to find people for the Honorary Citizen status for El Paso Days, but choosing Pauline and Roger just made sense. Blaisdell described the couple as a "big, big help" when it comes to the Millie Christopherson/Ivo Schlegl Memorial Breakfast.
In fact, Christopherson is Pauline’s mother, and Pauline said she always looks forward to the breakfast and volunteering.
The Laughnan family is large with four daughters and eight grandchildren they get to spoil. Their children are still close, with the furthest one living in Hudson.
The couple heads to Mexico in the winter time each year, but nothing beats trout fishing in the Rush River in their backyard. Pauline can be found tending her flower gardens during the summertime as well.
The couple says El Paso Days is a lot of fun, beginning on Aug. 15 with the annual golf tournament and going through Aug. 20. With so many things to do and see, Pauline and Roger say their favorite thing about El Paso Days has to be the parade.
"Their parades are always fun," Pauline said.
Roger said seeing the reactions of people who are not from the area during the parade is one of his favorite moments; it’s difficult for some people to fathom where they can even have a parade in El Paso.
"We’ve heard many, many, many that come to El Paso Days on Sunday, they cannot believe that many people show up for that parade. I said you’re going to be surprised," Roger said. "Then they come to the parade and they say, ‘Oh my god, I’ve never seen a parade like that before.’"
Aside from the parade, Roger will be throwing horseshoes, Pauline will be assisting at the breakfast, and they wouldn’t miss the horse pull and pulling up in their 1955 Chevy to the car show.
Watch for Pauline and Roger in the parade as well, taking part in the timeless classic that has shocked many for its size and quality for years.
Matthew Lambert joined the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal in December 2016 covering government, school board, and writing features about the community. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.