For 25-plus years it was my honor to serve as the Managing Director/Grand Parade Director for the Marysville Strawberry Festival. My job was to make sure events were all scheduled and everything was in place in time to welcome event participants and spectators to our community the third week in June of each year. This was no small task, but one I took to heart and totally enjoyed. At the end of each event, I would sit for a moment, take a deep breath and say to myself, “We did it and it was just great!”
This year I have been honored by Maryfest Inc. President Debbie Libbing, Parade Director Carol Kapua and the Maryfest organization having been named the Grand Marshal for this year’s Grand Parade. While this is a great honor, it does bring a sense of sadness.
I have had the honor to work with so many terrific people over the years. They were all truly dedicated to one purpose — maintaining the quality and high standards set forth by those who came before. While some of these people are no longer with us, their spirits dance through the streets each year at Festival time, including Bernie St. Onge, the man who in 1974 said “No, this festival will not die;” Duke Demiglio, the voice of the Marysville Strawberry Festival for more years that I can count; Audrey Black, writer for The Marysville Globe, a.k.a. The Nice Old Lady; Larry Johnson, one of the originators of the Adult Trike Race; Larry Neilsen, one of the best “Grand Parade Assistants” anyone could ever ask for; and the lead will be ex-Mayor Rita and Frank Matheny.
For many years now, my role has been reversed. I have now become a spectator, not an organizer. I have been able to sit on the sidelines and watch as “the parade passes by.” Many years ago, then Marysville Mayor Rita Matheny gave me a small framed picture of three children, in band uniforms, watching fireworks, the caption reads: “If there were no parades and no celebrations — our brass bands would cry, our sky rockets and sparklers would fade and be forgotten …”
My wish for all of you is to, “Keep the Spirit of Strawberry Festival Alive” and let the Festival begin — year after year after year after year!