Touchstone Energy Stands Tall in North DakotaBy Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 2nd, 2014
When the 133rd annual Independence Day parade moves down Mandan, N.D.’s Main Street, Touchstone Energy’s® red, blue and yellow trademark characters will be working the crowd with more than a half dozen cartoon icons from Walt Disney Studios.
The Touchstone Energy characters will be head and shoulders above thousands of spectators during Friday’s parade because each of them is 12 feet tall. They are making their second appearance at the parade, which has been part of the Fourth of July holiday in the Bismarck-Mandan area since 1881.
When Basin Electric Power Cooperative looked into making the larger-than-life costumes, a bid from a professional puppet maker came in at a whopping $70,000.
“We took matters into our own hands and created them ourselves for about $400 in materials,” said Ted Cash, the G&T’s manager of media support services. The wearable creations weigh about 25 pounds each.
“The puppets were constructed in my garage over a day and a half,” said Cash. “Basin Electric has some incredibly talented people who will do anything to make an event more enjoyable, especially for kids.”
Over the years, the logo has come to represent red for member, blue for leadership and yellow for employees. They’re known colloquially as the “Three Amigos.”
While the trio will help lead parade cheers from the sidelines Friday, dozens of other co-op employees wearing tie-dye T-shirts sporting the words “Keep Calm and Co-op On,” will staff the float, toss souvenirs and treats, or otherwise help with Mandan’s Independence Day events.
The National Information System’s Cooperative’s Mandan office, Bismarck-based Capital Electric Cooperative, Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Flasher, and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives in Mandan are also pitching in.
“At least 75 co-op employees have volunteered this year,” said Mary Miller, Basin Electric’s communications manager. “This is a great opportunity to show our co-op pride, because we are all part of the community.”
Disney characters will also be featured at this year’s event. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck and others were at Basin Electric’s Bismarck headquarters on June 27 for a patriotic preview of the float that will represent North Dakota’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.
Youngsters who benefit from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s pediatric cancer programs and the families of Basin Electric staffers enjoyed root beer floats and got a taste of Disney fantasy and fun.