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Pioneer Day of the past Chair Tom Madden shares memories and Pioneer pride

Posted: Friday, Oct 7th, 2016

Tom Madden drives his Milton French antique tractor in 2015 for the Santa Margarita Antique Equipment Show. Allyson Oken/ Paso Robles Press

PASO ROBLES — Pioneer Day chairman Tom Madden has done Paso Robles proud as the annual event begins Saturday, Oct. 8, without a hitch in the spokes.

Now in its 86th year, Pioneer Day boasts more than 100 parade entries, rolling stock as far as the eye can see and a down-home community day of fun — all in true Paso Robles fashion. Madden said that his first memory of Pioneer Day as a 5-year-old boy in Paso Robles was one of awe.

“It was the early 1960s, I remember sitting in the back of a pickup truck watching the parade with my family and just being awestruck by the old tractors and the World War II veterans marching,” Madden said. “The patriotism and sense of community are what made it great for me.”

In recent years Madden has had the honor of being event manager with the Pioneer Day Committee and has been a big part of featuring the vast collection of tractors and other rolling stock that the Pioneer

Museum houses and maintains.

For those who know Madden, they know him for his passion for these antique beasts that once dominated agriculture industries and helped to forge the modern infrastructure that took Paso Robles from its pioneering roots into the 21st century. After more than 40 years of being a part of Pioneer Day, Madden said that there was one moment that defined the event and its importance for him, saying it was his favorite memory of all.

“My favorite memory of all time was the Pioneer Day Parade in 2001 just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Mr. Eugene Ernst, who was a local farmer and World War II vet, came to the parade dressed in his dress blues driving his tractor and flying the American Flag,” Madden said. “For me, that memory just embodies everything that Pioneer Day is and should be.”

As the 86th Pioneer Day chairman, Madden said he could not be more honored than to be a part of his hometown event. Madden will be the Pioneer Day chairman for one more year, 2017, and then his old high school friend Paul Viborg will take up the banner as chairman for 2018 and 2019.

For the complete article see the 10-07-2016 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-07-2016 paper.

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