July 8, 2003


Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


A community is made up of individuals and individuality makes up the character of the community. In Ely we are blessed with some pretty remarkable people. We also have our town clowns and those who aim low, but that is a subject for another column. Most people in our town help make it better, either by raising their children with love or through a lot of volunteer work. Without these people Ely would be a pretty grim place.

One important individual who has definitely made Ely better is now having to bow out because he is preoccupied with fighting for his life. I am talking about Dan Erzar, a lifelong Ely citizen. Dan has cancer.

I first met Dan when my two young kidlets played violin for the Ely play "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat" Dan was one of the brothers of Joseph as well as the cook who displeased Pharaoh. When Dan sang you could always hear him everywhere. Dan has loved singing all his life and those who attend the Catholic Church in town have heard him perform often.

My children remember him mostly for being "Dan the Candy Man." A lot of kids know Dan for that. Dan has run a distributing company in Ely for years. If you buy a candy bar in Ely, chances are Dan had a hand in it. Every Halloween Dan would put together these white bags filled with candy. A kid would have to work both sides of a block to get as much candy as was in one of the Candy Man's white bags. Dan has always been a generous man.

Perhaps what most people in Ely remember about is his bass drum playing in the Ely Clown Band. He is well known for marching most of the parade backwards. His enthusiasm was contagious and has always made the Ely Clown band a highlight of any parade.

This 4th of July is the first parade Dan has missed. That age old killer of many fine people has weakened Dan to the point where marching is not an option. The town is poorer for this and I know my thoughts were on him when I saw the band march down Sheridan this year. Somehow the face paint looked a little paler this year.

I know there are probably many other things Dan has done that I am not aware of. Most of the time when I saw Dan he was a blur running by with candy or potato chips for Zups or at one of his other accounts. He always had time to say Hello, but like his marching, Dan does not do anything on autopilot. He was always in high gear.

I know if anyone can fight Cancer and give this scourge a run for its money, it is Dan Erzar. The Clown band has always played for the Cancer walks in Ely and Dan was always there. Dan is still contributing to Ely with his courage and Ely wishes him well.


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