Youth Day is right around the corner and that means a new grand marshal will be chosen. More than just a prestigious title, the Grand Marshal is a key ingredient tossed in the pot that makes Youth Day such a savory town tradition.
The Youth Day grand marshal is more of a citizen of the year-like honor. One might say they’re the face of Youth Day for that year because they’re elected based on the amount of time and effort spent benefiting Winters’ youth.
“The grand marshal is someone we honor from the community and who usually has some ties to the youth here. Last year it was Jenny Ramos, and of course, she does lots of stuff with the high school kids and disabled kids at the school,” said Mike Sebastian, the Youth Day Committee president. “We try to get someone we’d like to honor who’s spent a good amount of time helping the youth of the community. It’s similar to the citizen of the year elections. We get nominations, then the board meets and we’ll select somebody.”
The grand marshal is a position of honor that’s not without its responsibilities. According to Sebastian, the person elected grand marshal must sit in a car — usually a convertible — and wave to the crowd during the main parade. With the burden of that herculean task on their shoulders, the grand marshal receives a plaque commemorating the honor after the Duck Derby the evening before.
“When it comes to the best parade wave, you’ve got to remember to wave to both sides of the crowd. You’re sitting in the car, going down the parade route and have people looking at you from both sides,” Sebastian — a former grand marshal and the Parade Chairman — advised. “You can do the queen wave where your hand goes back and forth. You can get a little metronome and put a hand on it and have it wave back and forth for you, or you can switch hands. But you must wave to all your subjects on the parade route.”
This year, Sebastian, himself, will announce who the Grand Marshal is along with a little biography as they pass by the main stage on the parade route. Meanwhile, Richard Kleeberg will be singing the same praises on the stage near City Hall.
“It’s a huge deal to be named the Youth Day Grand Marshal. There are people who do a lot in the community involving the youth. Whether it’s schools, or Little League, or anything like that, they don’t get that honor of Citizen of the Year or recognition. This is just another way to recognize and honor their effort,” said Sebastian. “There’s just a lot of people in the background who don’t get the accolades that they should. So, this year we hope to give somebody who’s done well for the community and youth this honor. And it’s going to be a tough decision! We’ve got three or four I already see that will be an interesting choice. In the past, if we couldn’t decide on one, we’ll do honorary Grand Marshals as well.”
Youth Day itself will take place — as it traditionally has — on the last Saturday of April.