Doudna, Nelsons are grand marshals of festival parade
For the 50th anniversary of the Maple Leaf Festival, two legendary figures have been chosen as the 2007 grand marshals of the MLF parade.
Charles Doudna and Ron Nelson will be the grand marshals. The parade begins at 11 a.m. Nelson's wife, Eileen, is the third grand marshal. She accompanied him on the emcee stand for many years.
The MLF committee chose Doudna and Nelson this year, because it wanted historical figures for the 50th celebration.
"He was the voice of Maple Leaf for more than 20 years," Donna Curran, MLF committee chairperson, said of Nelson. "Charles is the only living founder of Maple Leaf."
Doudna is one of the founders of the Maple Leaf Festival. The others have died since the festival began 50 years ago. Doudna, who turned 100 years old in July, said the other two men were also responsible for the festival.
"I was one of the three men that started the festival," Doudna said. "C.R. Whitley and Dr. (Ivan) Boyd were the other two. Dr. Boyd actually dug up a few maple seeds to give away."
Curran said the reasons for choosing Doudna as one of the grand marshals this year were simple.
"He is the only living founder of the Maple Leaf," Curran said. "He was chosen for that and what else he has done for this community, which is unbelievable. He is a very bright man."
Nelson was the emcee of the festival for more than 24 years. He began in 1979 and ended in 2002 as the emcee.
"I am very honored and very surprised about the whole thing," Nelson said. "Everybody says somebody else should be more deserving. It would be great to have someone who has been watching the festival for 50 years or someone like that."
Nelson also said he is honored to be a grand marshal along with Doudna.
"That is very nice to be with someone like Charles," Nelson said. "I was telling some friends of mine that I thought he was 99 or 100 years old. I figured we were chosen, because we are the two oldest guys left in Baldwin who have ever been involved with the festival."
Curran said the committee always thought about Nelson when it had the 50th anniversary in mind, since he resigned from the emcee stand a few years ago. She said she may even get him on stage to speak a little bit Saturday.
"He was someone that has been kept in mind for the 50th," Curran said. "He was the voice of Maple Leaf for so long. I think it would be neat if we could get him to talk a little bit."