Lifelong McKenzie County woman celebrates 103rd birthday by being grand marshal in homecoming parade

A North Dakota high school honored its oldest living graduate in this year's homecoming parade. (Source: KFYR)
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 2:38 PM CDT
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WATFORD CITY, ND. (KFYR) - Homecoming is a longstanding tradition in many communities.

In Watford City, the annual celebration includes a homecoming parade.

For one lifelong McKenzie County resident, this year’s homecoming parade was a little extra special.

If Olga Hovet had to use just one word to describe what she felt when these photos were taken, that would be ‘exciting.’

“It was exciting,” said Hovet.

Hovet was selected to be the grand marshal in this year’s Watford City High School homecoming parade.

“I just thought it was exciting,” she said.

Hovet was chosen because she is the oldest living graduate of Watford City High School. She graduated 86 years ago.

“In 1936. I was 16 years old,” Hovet recalled.

On the same day as the parade, Hovet celebrated her 103rd birthday.

Students from her alma mater came to the Good Shepherd Home, where Hovet lives, to sing to the birthday girl.

“I’m an old, old lady,” Hovet said with a laugh.

From the birthday song to the photos with homecoming royalty, to riding in a convertible at the front of the parade, on this day, Hovet felt like a queen.

“She just beamed. She beamed the entire time. She was waving like a queen. She ate it up. She was beautiful and radiant, it brought tears to your eyes because you can see what joy it brought her,” said Kristin Rhone, activity director at Good Shepherd Home.

One of her sons drove Hovet in the parade. It was a trip down memory lane for them both. All six of her sons played football in high school, and Hovet has fond memories of cheering for the Wolves.

“Every weekend, we’d go to at least one game,” she recalled.

Like Hovet, football games and homecoming parades have stood the test of time. Both are still important traditions in Watford City.

“Traditions are really important not only to our school, but to our entire town,” said Amy Polivka, the student council adviser at Watford City High School.

And despite the more than 80-year age difference, this year’s senior class now feels an extra special connection to those who came before them. And as Hovet would say, that is all very exciting.

Hovet has lived in McKenzie County her entire life. She grew up on a farm about 15 miles outside Watford City.

She attended country school for several years, but when she went to school in Watford City, she had to move to town for the school year because transportation was limited to horses, wagons and buggies and it took a long time to travel 15 miles.