Dad and daughter lead Saturday's Atalissa Days parade


By Tim Evans

AN Reporter

There likely isn’t anyone as kind as Amy Windus in the small town of Atalissa – and the young lady gets a lot of that from her father, Randy.

Together, the pair will be honored as Grand Marshals for the annual Atalissa Days Parade, to be held Saturday, June 22, beginning at 4:30 p.m., with the line-up beginning at the Nutrien Ag Center on the southeast edge of town an hour earlier. The parade will eventually run past the fire station down Cherry Street and continue in front of the post office.

Fire chief Mike Smock said it was an easy decision this year when the firemen talked about nominees for the parade grand marshal. “They were the first people to come to mind,” he said of the star community volunteers who have given so much over the past years. “They’ve done so much and continue to do things,” he said.

Amy, 38, continues to be a spark in the community, having started things like Amy’s Closet in the past, a second-hand clothes collection and distribution project she created in cooperation with the city for area residents in need.

She said lots of clothes came and were sorted, but there just wasn’t enough takers, so she had to put an end to the program.

She’s also put together special Halloween and school drive events in the community, even getting local groups like the ladies from the Atalissa Church of Christ to pitch in. Lately, a new job at McDonalds in Muscatine, has limited her volunteer time and some of those activities had to be put on the back burner.

Today, you might find Amy walking through the community, usually ending up at the city park, where you might find her picking up trash just to help keep her town looking good. But one of her latest projects is a “blessing box” she helped put together that her father built and was initially placed near City Hall. Today, it’s located at Atalissa Church of Christ, where Amy said it’s getting a lot more usage as she makes sure the enclosed structure is filled with books, games and even personal items residents can use who otherwise may have to do without.

Amy says she simply loves to volunteer and gets a lot of that from her dad, Randy, and late mom, Janet, who died in 2020. Most of her life, except for a few years in Iowa City and Muscatine, have been spent in Atalissa, where she helps out her retired dad, Randy, who has also been quite the star citizen for Atalissa over the years.

He’s served on the city council for eight years and even took a post as interim mayor when Bob Schmidt had to leave the position due to a new career opportunity.

Bringing a different attitude to the council at the time, Windus was never afraid to pitch in and do things like leaders sometimes have to do in a small town, like getting in the driver's seat of a snow plow or back hoe or even helping repair maintenance equipment. “I stepped up and tried to do some nice things for the town,” he said, noting he always felt the people of the community owned the equipment and if they needed something done with that equipment, the city should try to take care of it.

One of the things he takes some of the credit in accomplishing in his early years on the council is the razing of the old Atalissa school building, which he said was “crumbling away” and was “going to be a danger for the community.”

He said even that decision didn’t come easy. “I never made any snap decisions,” Windus said. “Let’s study it. Take a look at things.” But he said the instant he stepped into the old school house, he knew it wasn’t salvageable.

A former employee for 32 years for LC Stutsman in Hills, Windus is an avid antique Allis Chalmers tractor collector and thinks the world of Atalissa Days, calling it “good for the town” in welcoming guests from all over to the community.

Windus says he might be a little biased, but thinks his daughter Amy is pretty awesome, calling her reliable, very responsible, positive, stubborn (like her mother), a good cook, a lot of fun, and even “a pain in the ass sometimes,” but says she’s always been kind and loves working with kids.

He said Amy deserves a lot of credit for her volunteer work through the years – calling it “one of her best traits.”

Amy, who is a 2004 West Liberty High School graduate, after which she earned an early childhood education degree from Muscatine Community College, says she also learned a lot about volunteerism as a member of her 4-H club.

She said it’s an honor to be able to ride with her dad in the parade as grand marshals and called it a “big surprise” when she learned it was happening.

Amy has two older brothers including Nick, who lives in Atalissa, and Cory, who resides in Colorado with his wife, Emily.

More about Atalissa Days

Held as a fundraiser for the Atalissa Fire Department, Atalissa Days will be held this Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, with activities centered around the fire station.

Although most of the events are being held throughout the day on Saturday, the two-day festival kicks off Friday evening at he fire station on Cherry Street with karaoke and a dance led by disc jockey Cody Dusenberry from 7-11 p.m., with food and drinks available. The Prata fireworks will be held that evening at dusk, as an alternative date should there be signs of inclement weather for Saturday night.

Saturday’s activities open at 8 a.m. with a burrito breakfast at the fire station and a car show put together by Mike Smith of Muscatine will take place from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Smith said as many as 80 cars have come to the sixth annual show that welcomes all types of vehicles for a $15 fee, all donated to the fire department. He said classic cars, hot rods, show cars, trucks, motorcycles and even youth vehicles are welcome. “We had a kid one year enter his motorized truck,” Smith said, noting even a youngster with a bicycle could enter.

Awards will be given for best of show and DJ’s choice, as the top 30 vehicles will get honored.

A corn hole tournament managed by fireman Jeremy Wehmeyer will begin at 11 a.m. with registration opening at 10 a.m.

Lunch, which will include grilled sandwiches, begins a 10 a.m.

The annual West Liberty Lions Club kid’s tractor pulling contest begins at 3 p.m.

The annual parade, featuring star community volunteers Randy and Amy Windus as grand marshals, will begin at 4:30 p.m., with the line-up beginning at the Nutrien Ag Center on the southeast edge of town an hour earlier.

The big fundraiser for the firemen is a “reasonably priced” grilled ribeye steak dinner with all the sides that begins at 6 p.m. at the fire station, followed by a live auction at 6 p.m. featuring items donated from all over the area including gift certificates, gift baskets, farm supplies, services and more. Anyone wishing to donate an item for the auction should contact Smock or any Atalissa first responder.

A live six-piece Iowa band, The Jammers, starts a 8 p.m. and will play a mix of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s music to midnight, taking a break for the 32-minute fireworks show at dusk put on by Alfredo Plata and family.