Past parade dignitaries to return for 50th festival
Many past participants of the Maple Leaf Festival parade will be back in it this year as part of the 50th anniversary.
Members of the MLF committee have been seeking past grand marshals, Maple Leaf queens and scholarship winners. Although not everyone is able to return for this year's festival, several people from each group will be on hand.
Those returning this year will be in the parade. Each group will ride in a tram during the parade.
"We will have the first queen, one of the festival's founders and several others on down the road," said Donna Curran, MLF committee chairperson. "It should be really cool."
The festival's grand parade had its first grand marshal in 1970. Since then, there have been 72 grand marshals named. However, in 2000 the grand marshals were veterans and in 2001 it was firefighters. It's unknown how many in those groups participated. The firefighters were chosen in 2001 in wake of the 9/11 tragedies.
Three men credited with being the founders of the festival served as grand marshals in 1972. They are C.R. Whitley, Ivan Boyd and Charles Doudna.
"The sad thing about the past grand marshals is when they were recognized, they were fairly up in age already," Curran said. "Less than 50 percent of them are still alive, but we do have a few."
From 1959 to 1991, there was a Maple Leaf Queen every year and that list totals 33. It was discontinued after it conflicted with the Miss Kansas Pageant. Curran said finding contact information for the past queens has been difficult, but she received some help a couple of weeks ago.
"I received a great phone call from the first queen, Phyllis Barnes about a week ago," Curran said. "She asked how it was going. She has taken it upon herself, along with Linda Ballinger, to try and find as much contact information as she can. I believe she has up to 15 queens that are planning on being here."
After the queens were discontinued, two Boyd Scholarship winners from Baldwin High School were named each year, one male and one female. There have been 32 scholarship winners named.
"I am finding out that we have scholars in Africa, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and all over," Curran said. "We will have a few that are planning on coming."
Curran said some of the recent winners are still enrolled in college and will be busy this weekend. Although they will be unable to attend, she does know that David Pressgrove, 1998 BHS graduate, will be flying in from Colorado to attend the festival this year.
"I would love to have as many of them back as possible, but many of them are in college or will be busy with other events," Curran said. "Kelsey Heckathorne will be running conference cross country. Spencer Wilson is in Arkansas for college."
Each group will ride in the parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.