Walt Bailey selected as Maple Leaf grand marshal

Every parade needs a grand marshal, and for this year’s Maple Leaf Festival parade, the job was filled by someone close to the Baker community.

Walt Bailey, emeritus professor of art, received the honor of being grand marshal for the parade Saturday. Bailey, his wife, Barbara, and two of his grandchildren rode in a convertible waving to the crowd that gathered for the festival. But before he even knew he would do this, the Maple Leaf Festival Committee had been planning who to pick for quite a while.

Annie France, Maple Leaf Festival committee chairperson, said the group starts deciding who it wants as grand marshal in July. She said they all have different suggestions on who it should be for that particular year.

“There’s always somebody that we want to honor,” France said.

After a couple months of deliberation, the committee made its final decision on grand marshal in October. The group’s choice of Bailey was unanimous.

“Everybody really wanted him,” France said.

France was the one who called Bailey to give him the exciting news.

"I think at first he didn't believe me," France said. "He was initially just really surprised."<br/>Bailey has lived around Baldwin City his entire life. He remembers the beginnings of the Maple Leaf Festival and seeing all the changes through the years. He's always been a part of the festival, either helping with floats or assisting in other ways, but Bailey never thought he would have this role.Bailey has lived around Baldwin City his entire life. He remembers the beginnings of the Maple Leaf Festival and seeing all the changes through the years. He's always been a part of the festival, either helping with floats or assisting in other ways, but Bailey never thought he would have this role.
Bailey has lived around Baldwin City his entire life. He remembers the beginnings of the Maple Leaf Festival and seeing all the changes through the years. He’s always been a part of the festival, either helping with floats or assisting in other ways, but Bailey never thought he would have this role.

“I didn’t expect ever to be a grand marshal of anything,” Bailey said.

During the parade, he said at first he really enjoyed looking through the crowd to wave at people he knew, but soon found there was more to enjoy.

“I realized that one of the most fun things is waving at the children,” Bailey said.

He loved watching the curious looks on their faces, then waving at them to try and evoke a smile or even a laugh.

Cassy Bailey, dean of students and daughter-in-law of Walt Bailey, thought it was very exciting and cool to watch him in the parade, especially since her two children were able to ride with him as well.

“It was wonderful they could share it with the children,” she said.

Cassy said being grand marshal is a special honor held by someone who makes big contributions to the community.

“Barbara and Walt have contributed … they have just been wonderful for Baldwin City,” she said.