The Youth Day Grand Marshal is an honorary position for someone who’s done a significant amount of work helping youth in the community. This year, this prestigious title goes to Carol McMasters-Stone who — for the past couple of decades — has been one of the key components in keeping Youth Day going.
Last week, McMasters-Stone got a phone call from Mike Sebastian, another Youth Day key facilitator, informing her she was chosen as this year’s Grand Marshal. Naturally, the designation came as an unexpected surprise to her — and pretty much only her. Gratitude and appreciation abound, McMasters-Stone maintains she does what she does simply for the love of this age-old, small-town tradition.
“This is a great community festival and it’s kind of embedded in Winters’ small-town fabric. It’s just a great day where we have all the free bounce houses at the Little League Park and whatnot, and it’s just about youth getting recognition — it’s an awful lot of fun,” said McMasters-Stone. “Everybody is so busy nowadays, it’s hard to pull an event this big together, but I feel like it adds value to the community and brings us out as a town.”
McMasters-Stone joined the Youth Day Committee about 20 years ago. Ever since then, she’s been one of the main gears that keep the machine known as Youth Day running smoothly.
“We chose Carol mainly because of her work with the Youth Day Committee and keeping it alive,” said Sebastian. “She was our secretary and treasurer. She was recently in charge of all the booth space in the park. She’s helped run the kids’ fair, she does all the work with our t-shirts, all the permitting work that needs to get taken care of for the event to happen with the city and the police department. We’ve had people step in and help us, but essentially it’s been her and I running it for the last 20 years. This year, Carol had to step away because of some family issues and I told her to send me a list of what she does so I can pick up some of the slack. Man, oh, man that list is a mile long.”
To Sebastian, McMasters-Stone has been the backbone of everything. From running the Duck Derby the day prior to ordering and organizing the portable toilets, it was high time for her efforts to be recognized.
Although she’s spent countless hours organizing Youth Day over the years, the Grand Marshal is not without her favorite parts of the day itself.
“I really like Youth Day, and one of my favorite parts of the whole day is the morning of when everyone’s still setting up at the park and it hasn’t all kicked off yet. You can smell the funnel cake guy getting ready and the other vendors’ food heating up and can hear the school bands warming up to walk in the parade too,” said McMasters-Stone. “It’s like this quiet moment before all the bedlam starts and the smells and instruments tuning up. I always like that period before it all starts and have always enjoyed the entire day, too.”
With her parade wave ready, McMasters-Stone will be riding down Main Street in a 1982 Corvette driven by her good friend, Ducky Phillips. If one attends the parade this year, be sure to give the Grand Marshal a wave back, because, without her, Youth Day wouldn’t be the fun-filled, Winters tradition it is today.