Helena celebrates Vigilante Day Parade 100th Anniversary

Helena celebrates Vigilante Day Parade 100th Anniversary
Posted at 7:36 AM, May 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-04 09:36:10-04

HELENA — Crowds flooded downtown Helena for the 100th anniversary of the Vigilante Day Parade, cheering on the students of Helena High and Capital High.

“It’s pretty exciting it really is,” said Sue Stone. “I got here at 10 o’clock to save our spot and cheer for my kiddos.”

Onlookers were treated to floats themed around Camp Rimini, the 1979 solar eclipse, pioneer life, the Man Gulch Fire, Eddies Bakery and more.

Float at Vigilante Day Parade

“It’s a great experience and it’s really fun to see everyone to come out and enjoy the downtown,” Steffen Rasile told MTN. “We enjoy seeing all the floats go by and it’s really fun to share with my children as well.”

The grand marshals of the parade this year are the family of A.J Roberts, former mayor of Helena and the Helena High Principal who started the now century-old Vigilante Day Parade.

aj roberts.png

Family members MTN spoke with said they would hear stories from family members about the fisherman and dedicated educator.

“[A.J. Roberts] passed away before my parents were married. So we learned about him through my father and my grandmother and the biggest thing I remember is education was extremely important to him and he was involved in the community in every way he could be,” explained A.J. Roberts granddaughter Julie McEnroe.

“He always seemed like a man of integrity and honesty and good morals. Lived for the betterment of others and helping people,” Mary Dann, McEnroe’s sister, told MTN.

Roberts’ descendants say they feel a sense of pride knowing their family member had such an impact on the Helena community.

“It’s awesome, it’s awesome. You only read and hear about these kind of guys,” said Mark Sans, great-grandson of A.J. Roberts.

Eddy's Bakery

Ultimately, we all stand on the shoulders of giants and push forward on the path that those who came before trailblazed.

One day our own actions will become history with future generations looking back on our work. Only time will tell the impact our lives will have.

In A. J. Roberts’ own words about the Vigilante Day Parade: “This parade, so little thought of at the time, and then only as a splendid substitute for several lawless activities, has more than any other Institution distinguished the city of Helena and its high school. From it also thousands of our citizens have obtained a knowledge of the life and customs, of the thrilling story of the early days in the Treasure state.”

Watch the full 100th Anniversary Vigilante Day Parade and see the winners