Parade was great, but maybe marshal post should honor some local resident or native?

By John Peters

December 1, 2013

Rosy cheeks, cold noses, and plenty of smiles — along with a few excited squeals as good old Saint Nick came into view — were the order of the day Saturday during the annual Mount Airy Christmas parade.

The Downtown Business Association puts on the parade each year, with no doubt hundreds of hours of work being put into the planning and implementation of the event. Individual groups that take part put in time as well, building floats and preparing for their appearances.

As life has changed over the decades, with smart phones and computers seemingly playing a larger and larger role in our lives, it’s good to see an event like the Christmas parade continuing to entertain thousands of visitors to the downtown area. It is equally good to see people of all ages, from kids to great-grandparents, lining the street and watching.

The city and all those on hand yesterday owe a big thank you to the association, the countless volunteers who put on the event, and even the city itself for closing off the streets and providing security.

One question we have, however, is regarding the choice for a grand marshal. This is not a criticism of the association — that groups does a wonderful job — not is it a criticism of the person chosen this year — by all account she’s a great person who does a good job with television entertainment and news reporting in Winston-Salem.

But this is a Mount Airy Christmas parade, and the bulk of those who watch are from Surry County and southern Patrick and Carroll counties in Virginia.

Mount Airy puts on two major parades each year, at Christmas and on Independence Day. We would like to think naming a grand marshal for these events would be a time to focus on honoring a local resident or native, someone from Surry County or those southern areas of Patrick and Carroll counties who had distinguished himself or herself through service to the community, the nation, or by making significant achievements on the national or international level.

A perfect example of this was the choice of Cpl. Josh Kerns of Ararat, Va., as the grand marshal two years ago. Kerns is a young man who was severely wounded while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. This area has no shortage of veterans, from World War II right on down to current conflicts, who would be deserving of such an honor.

If the parade is looking for star power, again, we have plenty of local residents or natives who have found great success on the national and international stage in the worlds of music, acting, writing, and other artistic endeavors.

There are many, many local men and women who have devoted their lives to the development of area youth through teaching, education administration, youth organizations or even coaching.

Even locally elected officials might be worthy of honoring with the title of grand marshal of the parade, either individually or as a group. While that might be seen as politicizing the parade a bit, the truth is city and county commissioners and other elected officials more or less devote their lives to service — every time they step outside their homes, whether going out to eat with family, going to church, or just trying to take a walk down their street — they often end up spending all of their time fielding complaints and questions from the public.

Again, this is no criticism of the association — the group works hard to put on these wonderful parades and oversee other projects — nor is it a criticism of the marshal this year. But, it might be good to keep the parade something centered on honoring those who help make the Greater Mount Airy region one of the best places to live and work.