La Crosse pastor, former UW-La Crosse professor to helm Oktoberfest parades

La Crosse pastor, former UW-La Crosse professor to helm Oktoberfest parades

From the Oktoberfest 2019 in La Crosse: Take a look back at the parades and pageantry from this year's fest series
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2019 Parade Marshals

The 2019 Maple Leaf Parade Marshal Joe Heim, left, and Torchlight Parade Marshal Scott Skogen were named Wednesday at Copeland Park.

The countdown to Oktoberfest in La Crosse continued to ramp up as two more members of this year’s Royal Family were announced Wednesday by festival organizers.

Scott Skogen, an Onalaska native, will be the 49th person to helm the Torchlight Parade on the city’s North Side. Joe Heim of La Crosse, will be the 59th Maple Leaf Parade marshal.

The Torchlight Parade steps off at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26. The parade starts at the intersection of Kane and Gillette streets and travels down Caledonia Street on the city’s North Side.

The Maple Leaf Parade will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. The route begins at the intersection of Clifton and Rose streets and travels down Copeland Avenue and Second Street.

“I’m looking forward to representing the North Side during the whole Oktoberfest experience,” said Skogen, who wore a Oktoberfest outfit of a feathered hat, wool coat and lederhosen given to him by church member Gale Grimsled.

Skogen, who pastors the North Presbyterian Church in La Crosse, also has a past Oktoberfest connection: his seminary internship mentor, the Rev. Allen Townsend, was the 1998 Maple Leaf Parade marshal.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Skogen leads worship services at care facilities, community events and at the La Crosse County Jail. He also has worked with the Onalaska High School golf team for 18 years, including the past six years as head coach.

Skogen graduated from Onalaska High School and was recruited to play college golf by the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas. He later received his Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas, and was a pastor in Yorktown, Texas for nine years before returning to La Crosse in 2000.

“People tell me being a parade marshal is really memorable because it’s such a big parade,” said Heim, a former University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political science professor. After he found out he had been named Maple Leaf Parade marshal, Heim and wife, Pat, went to a traditional German clothing store in the Twin Cities to shop for their Oktoberfest outfits.

Heim’s Oktoberfest credentials include pouring “a proper draft beer,” a skill he said he learned from his father-in-law, who used to work at the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. in Milwaukee before it was sold to Pabst. That skill will likely not be on display during Oktoberfest as he will be too busy attending various Oktoberfest dinners, balls and luncheons, as well as elementary school and nursing home visits the week after Oktoberfest, Heim said.

Heim also is known for being perpetually late to appointments, a quality his friends and family refer to as “Heim Time.”

“Having Grenadiers making sure I get to things on time is very important because I’m not very good with clocks,” Heim said. Grenadiers, who escort parade marshals and members of the Royal Family to Oktoberfest events, play an enormous role in making sure everything goes smoothly, Heim said.

Heim is involved in area government and politics and has been appointed to state education and law boards by former Gov. Jim Doyle and Shirley Abrahamson, former chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Heim also co-founded the Coulee Region Collaboration, now known as the 7 Rivers Alliance, and is an active member of the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

Heim moved to La Crosse twice, first in 1968 to teach political science at UW-La Crosse for three years, and then in 1975, after he married wife, Pat, and finished his graduate studies. Heim taught public administration at UW-La Crosse; Pat practiced family law until she retired last month.

Anyone can nominate a person for the parade marshal position. The nominee must be married, and be widely known and active in the community, according to Oktoberfest guidelines. They must also have lived within a 20-mile radius of La Crosse for at least a decade. The Parade Marshal Committee makes the final parade marshal selections.

The La Crosse Tribune helps you get ready for Oktoberfest

Jennifer Lu is the La Crosse Tribune environmental reporter. You can reach her by phone at 608-791-8217 and by email


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