By Sue Moore
“Deb Reynolds is truly an amazing person who has taken on a tremendous responsibility by organizing the best 4th of July parade in southwest Michigan,” Cheri Lutz, Schoolcraft village manager said. The Village Council agreed, naming her to receive its first Citizen of the Year award at its June meeting.
“Deb has been assisting with the parade since 1981 and took it over completely in 2002 while serving as president of the 4th of July committee,” Lutz wrote in her nominating letter. “Many people know her name but do not know her as a person. Deb spends hundreds of hours as a volunteer each year, organizing the parade, communicating with participants, either by phone or email. She is responsible for parade line-ups, securing the Master of Ceremonies, decorating the judges stand and making sure all entries are lined up and in place. In recent years, Deb has worked with the Air Force to arrange a fly-by from the Air Forces’ A-10 Warthogs which is the signal for the parade to begin,”
Reynolds tried to hand the reins of the parade to someone else several years ago but didn’t get many takers. “She appeared at a village council meeting to see if anyone else would volunteer,” Lutz said.
“I was born and raised in Schoolcraft, so I just couldn’t let the community down when nobody else stepped forward,” Reynolds said. TJ Gill and Courtney Adams have been helping her the last several years on the day of the parade. Reynolds has it so well planned she can leave and go home to rest on the actual day if she wants to.
The secret to her success is plenty of organization, she said. She sends out parade entry cards on May 1 to the list of prior participants, those who have been in the parade in the last two years. Reynolds has it so well planned that she knows exactly how many feet it takes on the road for each float entry. She stages them on Eliza Street and then branches off on all the feeder streets such as Pearl, Osterhout and Cass.
The day of the parade, Tom and Mary Carol Clark are stationed as volunteers at the corner of 14th and Eliza to direct traffic. “I can count on them to manage the chaos,” Reynolds said. “Schelley McMillan is in charge of the tractor lineup and that’s a big help too. Another thing that really helps is the bank where I work, Kalamazoo County State Bank, lets me do the planning work on its time and they cover the expenses too.”
As Citizen of the Year, she is going to be required to ride in her very own parade. Reynolds said she was honored to be chosen but doesn’t want to be featured in the parade itself. Instead she would prefer to be home with her feet up and a cool drink in her hand.