With Southport through thick and thin

Grand Marshal has decades of experience in the town


Photo contributed by Nicole Davis

Pete Hildebrand rings a bell in the Fourth of July Parade as Grand Marshal. The history of his family in Southport earned him his title.

Chad Smith, Reporter

Riding his bicycle down the roads of Southport, a young Pete Hildebrand explores the streets of the town he calls home. The land is free from traffic and buildings, a far cry from the bustling epicenter it has become today.

Unbeknownst to him as a child, Hildebrand would live most of his life in this town, just as other members of his family had done many years before him. The humble legacy created by his family now lives on through him and his children.

“My mom used to always say, ‘If you’ve gotten wet in Buck Creek, you’ll always come back,’” Hildebrand said. “What keeps me here is family tradition.”

Hildebrand is a member of one of the oldest families still living Southport, as well as one of its oldest citizens at age 75. He has seen the town go from a rural neighborhood to the lively suburb it is today. His history and involvement with Southport earned him the title of Grand Marshal on the Fourth of July parade.

While he says he has grown to accept the town’s changes of today, Hildebrand will never forget the Southport he spent his formative years in.

“Southport’s always been a small town,” Hildebrand said. “It wants very badly to be a city, but I hope it doesn’t lose its small town flavor.”

As an 8-year-old boy in 1949, Hildebrand moved from 10th Street to Southport. While his life in the town began here, members of his family had been living there since 1902. That year, Hildebrand’s grandfather purchased the same house Hildebrand himself lives in now.

After high school, Hildebrand served a brief stint in the military from 1960 to about 1965. When he returned, he lived on the East Side of Indianapolis but says the longer he was away from Southport the more he missed it. When his grandfather’s house was eventually up for sale, Hildebrand jumped at the opportunity to rightfully bring it back to his family.

“We got an opportunity to buy the house that my grandpa had lost in the depression,” Hildebrand said. “I had been thinking about growing a big garden with food (at the house). It seems silly now, but I really missed it.”

Throughout this time, Hildebrand has seen Southport go through various stages of development. He says he can remember days when Southport Road was barely two lanes and did not have nearly as much traffic or buildings as it does today. Now the area has expanded with numerous businesses and increased infrastructure.

Hildebrand once tried to fight some of these changes against the city council, as he did not feel ready to change. When unsuccessful in his attempts, he was forced to accept the improvements. His love for the town’s charm and positivity have allowed him to see this progress in a more positive light, certain that the future will be bright.

“I have confidence that the city is going to go on,” Hildebrand said. “It’s been here since about 1832, and I’m hoping it’ll be here in 2132.”