t's been 35 years since Vadnais Heights Lion Paul Schirer rode in a Mustang convertible in the Heritage Days parade.
The first time was in 1984 when Schirer was president of the Lions Club; nowadays the club has a float and passes out candy for children and dog biscuits for pets in the annual parade. This year, he'll be riding in a Mustang convertible as grand marshal.
Shirer was surprised that he was announced as the 2019 parade grand marshal at the annual Lions picnic at Kohler Meadows Park Aug. 8.
“Well, now I'm going to need a volunteer to pass out the dog biscuits,” Schirer said after Recreation Supervisor Katie Everett and Lions Heritage Days Chair Pam Radziszewski made the announcement.
Having a grand marshal at the annual parade has been inconsistent over the years, said Everett, who is in her first year as the city's recreation supervisor. Last year, Olympians Hannah and Marisa Brandt were named grand marshals. Everett hopes to make a grand marshal a tradition and establish a selection process. This year, city staff chose a grand marshal after discussing the idea with the Heritage Days committee.
“They thought it would be good to pick someone that does a lot of volunteering in the community,” Radziszewski said. Schirer was on the committee, and they discussed who it would be when he wasn't there, she noted.
Schirer helped start the Vadnais Heights Lions Club in 1980 and the Vadnais Heights Food Shelf in 1984, a joint effort between the Lions Club and city, said his wife Eileen. He has been the director of the food shelf for the last six years and expanded it into a mobile shelf. He delivered food to a senior living community. “This whole club has stood behind him in this food shelf effort,” she added.
“Thank you for all you have done for Vadnais Heights for 40 years,” Everett said when she made the announcement.
Schirer also received the Lions' International President's Certificate of Appreciation this year. The award recognizes outstanding accomplishments of Lions in supporting growth and humanitarian services. Schirer was noted for his work at the Vadnais Heights Food Shelf.
The Grande Parade will be held at noon Sunday, Aug. 18. It will begin at Commerce and head south on McMenemy Street. It will turn east on County Road F and end at Clover Avenue. A good spot to view the parade if you don't live near the route is at Kohler Meadows and Community Park on County Road F.
The parade is just one activity during the city's Heritage Days festival at Community Park. The fun begins with a senior picnic at noon Thursday Aug. 15 and activities run through 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18. Activities include a kiddie parade, pig roast, dunk tank, bounce house, bean bag and water ball tournaments, fireworks, booya, outdoor worship service, car show and bingo. For a schedule of events, visit cityvadnaisheights.com.