SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Monday’s Native American Day parade in downtown Sioux Falls will be led by a 94-year-old great-great grandmother. Opal Stars, who grew up on the Rosebud Reservation, will serve as grand marshal. This onetime teacher and school bus driver is known by everyone as “Grandma Opal.”
Opal Stars has been making star quilts since she was 15-years old.
“I just enjoyed quilting and that’s all I do is quilt,” Opal said.
Now, she’s passed on the skill to her children and grandchildren.
“Just sit there and watch her and then she gives me about five minutes of watching her and then I had to take off and do it on my own,” daughter Lisa Stars said.
Teaching others has been a lifelong vocation of Opal’s. She served as a Head Start teacher on the Rosebud Reservation and a dorm parent at the Pierre Indian Learning Center.
“I love teaching and I brought my children up to go to school and learn so they have a happier life learning and doing things,” Opal said.
Opal even served as a Head Start bus driver.
“I was scared at first because I had to go after kids 35 miles from our school,” Opal said.
She came to be known as “Grandma Opal” to the children she worked with.
“I love being called Grandma Opal. I’m not ashamed to be called Grandma Opal because I’ll always be a grandma,” Opal said.
Grandma Opal’s commitment to education made her an easy choice to be this year’s grand marshal at the Native American Day Parade.
“Just seeing how Opal has lived her life and it shows through her children, her great grandchildren and it’s just overwhelming to see somebody live in such a good way like that,” Sioux Falls Native American Day Parade Chair Char Green said.
“She’s overwhelmed. She’s like what do I do now? What do I say? It’s like nothing, just be there. That’s what they want to see is you and so just be happy and wave at them and get your princess wave going,” Lisa Stars said.
A onetime school bus driver now leading the parade, so others can follow her example.
“I try to be kind to people. Help them out any way they need my help,” Opal said.
Native American Day activities start at 9 a.m. Monday with a prayer ceremony in Lyon Park. The parade starts at 11 a.m. at 13th & Phillips. That’s followed by a wacipi at the Levitt shell from 1-4 p.m.