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Whoopee Days a small-town tradition for Brighton

GTNS photo by Grace King

Aubrey Smith, 6, left, smiles on a carnival ride at Brighton Whoopee Days on Friday, June 14. Next to her rides Cherokee Nagy, an employee of Amusement Associates of Sheraton, who brought in the carnival rides.
GTNS photo by Grace King Aubrey Smith, 6, left, smiles on a carnival ride at Brighton Whoopee Days on Friday, June 14. Next to her rides Cherokee Nagy, an employee of Amusement Associates of Sheraton, who brought in the carnival rides.
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BRIGHTON — Residents of Brighton who experienced Whoopee Days as a child continue to view the small town’s tradition through the eyes of younger generations who take the summer fun day and make it their own.

Whoopee Days opened with a splash and a dunk tank on Thursday, June 13, with activities continuing through Sunday, June 16. The weekend held a carnival, a parade, a Bill Riley Talent Show, concerts, more entertainment and, a town favorite, the annual mud run.

Daringer Erdman, 15, of Brighton, was most looking forward to the mud run on Saturday, June 15. Erdman said participants drive any vehicle they want with the goal to get through the mud. This year, he drove a four-wheeler through the mud.

“You start at one end and have to get out without getting stuck,” Erdman said with excitement.

Erdman said that Whoopee Days makes him appreciative every year of his town.

“Small towns like this often don’t have enough money to do things like this,” Erdman said, adding that Brighton makes it a priority.

Pepper Smith, parade chairwoman for Whoopee Days, said the annual tradition means a lot to the small community.

Whoopee Days was originally called Booster Days, Smith said. When Washington Street, which was alive with carnival lights on Friday, was paved, Booster Days began to be called Whoopee Days.

“Whoopee, the street is paved,” Smith said.

Smith, who has lived in Brighton her entire life, recalled playing Miss Muffet and Annie Oakley in past Whoopee Day parades. Back then, it was always a big summer blow out, she said.

Carol Christner said that in Brighton, there are very few things to take the family too. She used to go to Whoopee Days when she was a kid. She brought her kids, her grandkids and now she brings her great-grandkids.

Caternia Kelly, of Cedar Rapids, served food from her truck Phillington’s Way as the Whoopee Days carnival kicked off on Friday, June 14. Kelly travels all over Iowa to cater to events like Whoopee Days, serving tenderloins, pulled pork, walking tacos and more.

“I just like traveling around, meeting new people,” Kelly said.

Megan Folk, an employee with the carnival Amusement Associates of Sheraton, said she enjoys the town of Brighton.

“Everyone is so nice around here,” she said.