1995 GRAND MARSHAL
His trademarks are optimism, community support
Erc Aga loves a parade. In fact, he has never missed the Vikingland Band Festival. Erc Aga also loves his community. In fact, he has never missed an opportunity to speak a positive word about what's happening in Alexandria. This type of tremendous support and love of community is what prompted the Vikingland Band Festival Executive Committee to name Aga Grand Marshal of the 11th annual Festival, according to Festival Chair Al Quam. "As a well-known local personality, Erc has contributed immensely by actively promoting the efforts of our youth and of the Vikingland Band Festival," says Quam. Aga has shown support for both the Festival and the Alexandria High School Marching Band over the years, especially in his popular weekly columns in the Echo Press. Born in Wisconsin, Ercel Lovelette Aga was given a name as interesting as his life was destined to be. Aga spent his boyhood in Minneapolis and moved to Alexandria to begin high school. His antics and sense of humor were quickly made evident to those around him in school. It wasn't long before his impact was felt by an entire community that has long been the recipient of many years of his love and care. Aga began his career in retail sales, but it was interrupted by World War II when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in flight training. Aga and his high school sweetheart, Nora Anderson, were married in 1939. They were blessed with four children, Dick, Kathryn, Marilyn and Rob, who later presented Erc and Nora with seven grandchildren. In the mid-1950s, Aga found his true vocation in local media and became part owner of KXRA Radio. He became a virtual family member to his thousands of listeners with his daily morning wake-up show. By the early 1960s, Aga became a contributor to the newspaper with a weekly column. In time, he became part owner of the Park Region Echo, now the Echo Press, where he continues today writing his popular column. Aga's visionary thinking is one of his greatest attributes, according to his daughter, Kathryn Lee. "Dad always taught us to think long-term," Lee says, "and many of his own ideas were ahead of their time." Some of those ideas came true, some did not, Lee explains. One that did not was his proposal to enclose Broadway with a balloon-type dome, creating an indoor shopping area. In other cases, his ideas did come true, such as last year when Alexandria built a new fire station off of Broadway. "I remember he had a fit years ago when the city built the fire station on Broadway. He knew that location would cause traffic problems, and wanted the station built elsewhere," Lee says. Well-intended practical jokes are another of Aga's trademarks. According to Lee, one of Aga's more notable pranks -- and one that got him into a bit of trouble -- was in the mid-1950s when he convinced the town that a cougar was running loose in the city. "Dad wanted to show how gullible people were," Lee explains. "He announced on his radio program that a cougar had been spotted in town. Of course there was no cougar, but he let the story play out for about two weeks. People were soon calling him and the police with reports that the cougar had just run through their yard, or the cougar had just killed some cattle. "When the hoax was revealed, we got all kinds of phone calls from people who really gave my dad a piece of their mind." Pranks aside, Aga has made a positive mark on Alexandria. From the county fair to the local airport, volunteer fire department, and local service clubs, Aga has truly been a champion for building a sense of community pride. Years ago, the city honored Erc by naming a street after him: Aga Drive. Today, we again pause to honor Erc Aga as Grand Marshal of the Vikingland Band Festival.