McMillen, Weaver to lead parade
Elmo won’t be there, but the Maple Leaf Festival parade will be led by a couple of so-called clowns.
The 2008 parade grand marshals will be a pair of longtime Baldwin City resident icons. They will be Danny McMillen and Rick Weaver.
“I was told that they were trying to make a clown thing out of the grand marshals,” Weaver said. “He was a clown and they wanted one more guy to go along with him. Maybe that’s why they asked me.”
Donna Curran, MLF chairperson, said the two grand marshals were chosen because of their involvement in the community.
“Danny was chosen for all of his service through Elmo and the community,” Curran said. “He and his wife Becky were also on the Maple Leaf committee for many years.
“Rick Weaver was nominated for all of his community service for Baker and the high school football team,” she said. “He and (wife) Vickie will also ride in the parade.”
After 27 years as Elmo the Clown, McMillen hung up his big shoes and red nose last October. His time as the Maple Leaf Festival clown was over, along with his interaction with the parade … or so he thought.
“I thought I was through with doing parades, but here I am again,” McMillen said. “I think it’s an honor. I don’t know if I deserve it, but it’s definitely an honor.”
Weaver has been involved with festival for years, but even more so with the community. During the 1980s, he was the organizer of the MLF 10-kilometer run and he also ran a food booth to raise money for his Baker University men’s basketball team.
He’s been the coach of the team for more than 20 years. Weaver has also been the coordinator of the Bulldog Bash, a community-wide tailgate party before the first Baldwin High School home football game each fall.
“Like I said, I don’t know how many people they had to go through to get down to me,” Weaver said. “I’m proud to do it. I think Maple Leaf is kind of a highlight of the year in Baldwin. Being involved with it is always a highlight for me.”
He was recently informed of the being selected as one of the grand marshals.
“For me, it was about a month ago, I think,” Weaver said. “Donna Curran stopped by the office and gave me the big news. I thought it might be on CNN or ESPN, but it was from the mouth of Donna Curran.”
Both Weaver and McMillen will be riding in cars with their wives, Vickie and Becky, to lead the 51st annual parade. Both men hope for a beautiful day Saturday so they can enjoy their special honor.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Weaver said. “There’s always a big crowd and it’s a lot of fun. Hopefully the weather cooperates. It should be interesting.”
McMillen even said this year might be appropriate to be a clown, based on what he did 21 years ago.
“I think it would be a good year to be a clown,” McMillen said. “I remember in 1987 when the stock market crashed, I took a piece of the paper with Wall Street on it and an old billfold and sat in the street and cried, because everybody had lost then. This year would be good for that with taxes, politicians and broken Wall Street.”
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