MARYSVILLE — “Even relatively recent residents of Marysville know what an icon Carol Kapua is in the Marysville community,” city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director said of Kapua, a multi-year past president of the Marysville Strawberry Festival, who will serve as Grand Marshal of the Electric Lights Parade for the 25th annual “Merrysville for the Holidays” on Saturday, Dec. 7.
In addition to her longtime involvement and leadership with the Strawberry Festival, for which she and Jodi Hiatt were named the city of Marysville’s Volunteers of the Month for March of this year, Kapua was also instrumental in staring “Merrysville for the Holidays” a quarter-century ago, according to Ballew.
“There’s only a handful of that original crew left,” Ballew said. “And Carol has hosted, produced, represented and managed so many parades by now, to a degree that I don’t think she gets recognized for. Carol always devotes hundreds of hours and untold energy to making sure every parade she’s part of will be entertaining to anyone who attends it.”
“It’s just something you do,” Kapua said. “Jim had to remind me that I’d done all this stuff, because I don’t think about it. When somebody needs help, you help them out. Don’t look at me if you need to change a flat tire,” she laughed, “but if it’s something in my skill-set, of course I’ll help.”
Although she acknowledged that the Pacific Northwest’s variable weather always has an impact, Kapua nonetheless insisted that the Marysville community helps make her job easier by always turning out in significant numbers for such parades, and she noted a few improvements that the Electric Lights Parade has made over the years.
“It’s nice that they shortened that parade route, because it gets everyone to cluster together closer,” Kapua said. “I also appreciate that they’ve given the floats a place to get organized at the Marysville City Hall. Between that, the lighting of the water tower and all the vendors in Comeford Park, it seems like they’ve added something new every year since it’s started.”
Kapua has enjoyed seeing not only newcomers at each year’s “Merrysville for the Holidays,” but also a growing group of familiar faces who have made the event an annual tradition.
“It’s the one parade when we can actually hand out candy,” Kapua said. “If I think I see something that needs to be done, I’d like to do it. The main reason I’m willing to extend my hand is that I feel so blessed. It’s nice to give back, because the more you get, the more you want to give.”
Such is Kapua’s reputation throughout the region, through her work with the Strawberry Festival and other festivals, that Ballew suspects this year’s Electric Lights Parade might see a slightly boosted turnout.
“I’d expect we could see our float entries double this year,” Ballew said. “From Canadians on down through the I-5 corridor, Carol was worked with so many cities that wouldn’t otherwise enter a December parade.”
Kapua herself sees such volunteer work as the natural progression of the values that her mother instilled in her, by having her read to the bedridden and bake cookies for their neighbors at a very early age, but she’s not above looking forward with relish to one privilege of her newfound position.
“I’m very surprised, very honored and very overwhelmed,” Kapua said. “It’s nice to be recognized by the community, but what’s really great is that they’re going to let me pull the lever to light up the water tower this year,” she laughed. “That has me really excited. I suppose I’m reverting to a childish state about it.”
“’Merrysville for the Holidays’ has grown from very humble beginnings to become an event that draws between 3,000-5,000 visitors each year, and Carol helped make that happen,” Ballew said.