By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
PLAINS—It was a jubilant day of celebration, memories, and catching up Saturday in Plains as a large crowd gathered to thank Barry Mellen for his many years of service as a teacher and coach at Southwestern Heights.
Before the day's first official event even began, former players, Barry's assistant coaches through the years, and family members met at the community center exchanging hugs and memories.
The theme for the day — “One in a Mellen”.
The official start of the celebration was a parade down Main Street. Barry was joined on the parade float by his wife, Melissa, his father, his two sons, their spouses, and the grandchildren. Following the float more than 120 former players who played for Mellen from 1985-2014.
As parade stopped in front of Plains State Bank, Mellen stood up and faced his former players. Out came a whistle, and Mellen led his troops one last time in their pre-game defensive slide drill.
Mellen then received proclamations from the City of Plains and Seward County proclaiming May 24, 2014 Barry Mellen Day.
Mellen gave all the credit to the players he had coached, and thanked the parents and community as a whole for their hand in his success.
It was back to the community center for the rest of the event. Several rooms and hallways were filled with memorabilia from the Mellen era. Photos, team shirts, jerseys, news articles and trophies were on full display as fans and former players looked through it all to take a step back in time.
After a meal, Mellen handed out several awards. Then he was treated to a skit and a round of thanks given many whose lives had been touched by Mellen.