By Pat Caldwell
VALE – The news that she was picked to be the grand marshal for the Vale Fourth of July parade came as a surprise to longtime area resident Dottie Mendiola.
Yet she admits she was quietly pleased by the nomination.
“It’s kind of cool to be the second woman to do it,” Mendiola said. “No woman has ever had it except Connie Evans. I didn’t think women were even nominated.”
Malheur County Commissioner Don Hodge delivered the news to her, she said.
“He told me I could not turn it down. I said, fine, I guess,” Mendiola said with a quick laugh.
On a number of levels she seems the perfect choice for grand marshal.
Mendiola, 78, has worked and lived her entire life in the Vale area, a place she said she loves.
Along with her husband, Larry – a grand marshal of the parade in 2007 – she raised three boys – Joe, Jim and Jeff – and became a fixture in the small community as she worked at various jobs. Larry and Dottie have been married 60 years.
Dottie has worked as a waitress, for the Vale School District, the sale yard, Becker’s Market and was a 20-year member of the local Lioness Club. She also devoted more than 50 years to the local American Legion Auxiliary. A Catholic, Mendiola also dedicated time to her parish and She also worked at a book distribution business in Portland when Larry was going through barber school.
Vale’s Fourth of July festivities also played a key role in Dottie’s life.
“Larry and I we met at a Fourth of July dance at the fire hall,” she said.
They are also the first husband/wife duo to be nominated to helm of the Fourth of July Parade, Dottie said.
She said Vale’s Fourth of July and Oregon Trail Days celebration has been part of her life since she could remember.
“I was knee-high and always thought it was a big deal. And I love the parade. Larry has ridden in the parade for years for the Legion,” he said.
And Dottie said she loves the rodeo.
“Team roping, mainly because you know some of the contestants. It was a big deal to come to Vale for the whole day for the Fourth of July,” she said.
The Fourth of July celebration has evolved over the years, Mendiola said, and has always felt like a big family reunion.
“There used to be a carnival and lots and lots of relatives going house to house to visit,” she said.
Mendiola said Vale is a special place.
“There are people here that will help you if you need it. You don’t mind helping your neighbor and they don’t mind helping you,” Mendiola said.