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Grand marshal Thoftne ready to head tonight’s Torchlight Parade

Brad Williams



It used to be the closing event of Oktoberfest for many years, but the Torchlight Parade through north La Crosse is now the highlight of the festival’s opening day.

The parade kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight for the 58th Annual Oktoberfest in La Crosse with north-side native Chuck Thoftne serving as Torchlight grand marshal.

“It was something that I never throught would be in my sight,” Thoftne said. “So, it’s extremely humbling. Being nominated for that, it means the world.”

He explains what he likes about the Torchlight event.

“I think the energy level is fantastic,” Thoftne said. “The lights on all the floats, the bands jump out because they’re all lit up. It’s my favorite.”

Thoftne says north-side experiences have been an important part of his life, including Little League games at Copeland Park and water-skiing on the Black River.

While Thoftne’s main responsibility for Oktoberfest is tonight’s parade, Neil Duresky is waiting for his turn to lead the Maple Leaf Parade on Saturday.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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