For the first time ever, Coupeville’s annual Christmas parade will have a grand marshal when it rolls down Main Street at 4 p.m. Saturday.
While some argue the annual event just seems to magically come together each year, most understand it takes more than holiday magic to pull it off.
Because of that, the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce – which is in charge of the Christmas parade now – has chosen longtime parade organizer Carol Thrailkill as the event’s first grand marshal.
“I thought it was really important to put her as the grand marshal,” said Lynda Eccles, chamber director.
“Carol has organized it for more than 12 years. And she’s been an integral part of the community for many, many years.”
Thrailkill, who recently closed her shop, Coupeville Yarns, puts a different spin on things.
“I look at it like we all had different jobs to do and I was kind of in charge of that,” she said of her part in working on the parade. “But this one wasn’t as highly organized as say, the Memorial Day parade.”
Thrailkill said she worked from a list of participants she kept from year to year. Some participated every year, some might miss a year or two and then be back.
“I always told people if you get here in time you go. If you don’t, you miss out,” she said. “We have a lot of old faithfuls, but every year we would pick up new ones.”
Friends say it wasn’t that simple; if not for Thrailkill, there wouldn’t be a parade.
“The parade is Carol,” said longtime friend Kaye Stuurmans, who has been a parade helper every year it’s been held.
“Carol did everything from day one and she has done that every year,” Stuurmans said. “She is very detailed and very organized. She wanted to make it the nicest parade she could make it.”
“It’s such a delight to be able to take it over,” Eccles said. “She has kept such wonderful records. She made it so amazingly easy.”
According to Thrailkill, who began working on the parade in 1999, the parade has not only grown in terms of participation but in terms of spectators as well.
Whether it’s the holiday spirit, seasonal lights or the carols, all the ingredients weave together to produce an event that is the official start of the holiday season for many.
“It’s always so fun to see the lights and hear the music,” Thrailkill said. “And everybody seems to enjoy it so much.”
“We love it because it’s Coupeville,” Stuurmans said. “It’s a small town but that doesn’t mean we have to think small. I think it’s the community feeling. People wanting to help and be there for each other.”
Like anyone who has labored over an event for many years, Thrailkill hopes the parade will continue to grow.
She said she never had time to do very much in the way of promotion but knows the chamber has been advertising it.
“I’ll be anxious to see this year what a difference that makes,” she said.
Whether the addition of a grand marshal for the Greening parade is a one-time thing or a permanent fixture, Eccles said everyone will just have to stay tuned.
“You’ll have to wait ’til next year to find out,” she said. “It’s a great way of acknowledging people in the community. We have a lot of unsung heroes who do a lot behind the scenes.”
For her part, Thrailkill seems genuinely puzzled by her selection as this year’s grand marshal.
“I still don’t know what that’s all about,” she said. “There are so many people that do so much. That’s why I’m surprised.”
“She’s just a great lady,” Eccles said. “We’re going to make her feel special, give her the accolades she deserves.”
Since Thrailkill has stepped back from the responsibility of planning the parade and has closed her shop, she said she’s looking forward to taking things a little easier, although she is planning on finding new things with which to occupy her time. But she’ll always make time for the Greening of Coupeville.
“I’ll be there,” she said. “I love a parade.”