Your 2018 Mrs. Oktoberfest Mary Mickelson
This season’s Mrs. Oktoberfest is new to the royal family, but the lifelong fester marched in the parades for three years while playing flute in the Logan High School band, and her family had a front-row seat for the Maple Leaf Parade.
Mary Mickelson, revealed during the Mrs. Oktoberfest reception Wednesday evening, is the final member of the royal family to be announced for the Thursday-Sunday festival.
After a lifetime of growing up in and around Oktoberfests, the 56-year-old corporate travel agent for Travel Leaders said: “It is so cool, when I think of being picked out of so many others” who could have been nominated and selected.
Asked what she is looking forward to most as the reigning Mrs. Oktoberfest, Mickelson replied in an interview, “The parades. I would be lying if I didn’t say the parades. But afterward, I’m sure it also will be meeting all of the people.”
Her exalted seat on the Mrs. Oktoberfest float in the Torchlight Parade on Thursday night and the Maple Leaf Parade on Saturday will give her the perk of seeing the tens of thousands of people along the routes, but it’s hard to beat the viewing spot she had as a young girl.
Her parents, Bob and Adeline Clement, owned and operated Elfman Marine, which was on the Copeland Avenue portion of the parade route, roughly where the Great Harvest Bread Co. and Candlewood Suites are now. They were able to turn the lot of the boat dealership and service center into a venue for a family affair with relatives and friends, said Mickelson, who grew up on French Island and now lives in Stoddard.
Mary started college at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, intending to major in a recreational field.
“I lived outdoors growing up,” she said, so the major seemed logical to her and fit with her goal to get a job connected to outdoor activities.
Mary’s volunteer endeavors over the years have included outdoors and recreational elements, such as Riverland Girl Scouts, the Central Booster Club and Shelby Sports, in addition to Mobile Meals of LaCrosse, the La Crosse Community Foundation, Great Rivers United Way, the American Cancer Society, Come for Supper, the YWCA and the La Crosse School District.
Her career goal shifted when she was working in customer service at a bank and waited on a travel agent who came in to buy travelers checks. They began chatting, and Mary decided, “That is a job I’d like to do.”
When she dropped out of UW-L to attend McConnell Travel School, she said, “My parents were not happy. Dad was livid. But it turned out to be a good career choice for me.”
Mary and Randy, who have three adult daughters — Kathryn, Hannah and Rachel — had the happily coincident experience of starting their jobs on the same day, July 18, 1988. She began at Travel Leaders and he, at what now is Gundersen Health System, where he is a physician’s assistant.
They have hosted international exchange students from Germany, and Hannah studied in Germany for nearly a year.
Mary expressed gratitude that her career switch also opened the world to her.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my travels, and I’ve been to five continents. I just got back from two weeks in the Baltics,” she said.
Asked her favorite travel destination, the longtime member of Downtown Rotary said she would select them by areas — in the Caribbean, Aruba; among continents, Europe.
“But my all-time favorite is fishing with my husband in Canada. I love fishing, and I love the water,” she said, voicing the sentiment of the daughter of a boat salesman. “I probably could swim before I could walk.”
Former Mrs. Oktoberfests
|Year||Mrs. Oktoberfest||Mr. O|
|1980||Alma Burns Zahn*|
|1989||Jean Gitz Bassett|
|1999||Eleanor St. John||Perry|
|2014||Sue Dillenbeck||Jim (Dilly)|
Mrs. Oktoberfest Fun
Who will represent La Crosse as Mrs. Oktoberfest?
Nominations for Mrs. Oktoberfest 2019 are now open! Submit your nomination for the 2019 Mrs. Oktoberfest by completing the online form below.
Your nominee should be a person who:
- Actively involved in the La Crosse Community
- At least 50 years old
- Living within 20 miles of La Crosse
- Able to devote her time to numerous Oktoberfest activities throughout the upcoming year
- A La Crosse and Oktoberfest enthusiast
- aware that you are nominating them to be Mrs. Oktoberfest
The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Nominees shall remain active in the candidate pool for three years, starting with the year of the original nomination. If you have questions about the nominating process, please contact Mrs. Oktoberfest 2010 Karla Stanek