By: RACHEL SMITH
The Fourth of July in Clear Lake is beyond special. Each year, crowds of people from North Iowa flock to the tourist town. Some enjoy a leisurely holiday out on the water. Some fancy the Evans United Carnival with all the food, the rides, the buzz of activity in the park. Some prepare and plan for days to entertain family and friends, making memories to last a lifetime.
But no matter how people choose to spend their Fourth of July, the masses seem to come together for the parade. For years, it’s been the highlight of festivities for young and old during the celebration of our Nation’s independence. There’s something about seeing that VFW truck coming down Main Street and watching as droves of people along the curb stand and place their hand over their heart.
Just thinking about it right now there’s a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
It’s America. It’s Patriotism.
For the past few years, there’s been an added element to the beginning of the parade. A burst of sound as a Phenom jet soars above the trees. It’s the fly-over that blows any other fly-over out of the water. And it’s all thanks to the big, generous heart of Mark Holt.
Mark’s story is one of hard work, dedication, and a love for all things aviation. The seed for his deep love of planes was planted by his father, and grew when he realized the need to get to his customers quicker. In 1998, after selling nearly everything he owned, Mark bought the feed-drying plant his father had started and launched his own business to produce all-natural animal health products. This was the birth of Varied Industries, which then became known as ViCor.
The Phenom jet became the backbone of his business as he visited customers and transported employees to and from meetings and tours. When he sold ViCor, the new owners did not want the jet. But Mark loved the Phenom and wasn’t ready to give it up.
He found a new purpose when he met Walt Fricke and learned about the Veterans Airlift Command, who organizes the transport of injured or disabled veterans. The Phenom got the makeover of all makeovers and was completely transformed – inside and out – to look like something you’d see in a blockbuster Sci-Fi movie. A unique version of a Star Wars/Star Trek/Back to the Future masterpiece, all crafted with military-inspired flare. And now, it’s used to help those in need who once helped our country; wounded or disable Vets.
Now that is America. That is Patriotism.
And that, my friends, is pure beauty.
So this 4th of July, before the parade begins to slowly roll down the streets of Clear Lake, cast your eyes up. You might get a peek of the Phenom as it speeds by at warp speed.