The Waverly Heritage Days Committee has announced that two longtime Waverly stalwarts will share the duties as the 2019 parade grand marshal.
Tab Ray, the recently retired director of the Leisure Services Department, and Steve “Duke” Corson, co-owner of Kaiser-Corson Funeral Homes, have been recognized for their respective leadership in town. The parade will be held on July 20, part of the July 18-21 annual festival.
Ray is being — pardon the term — tabbed for his 34 years running the city’s parks and Harlington Cemetery, while Corson is being recognized for his charity work, which includes his fundraising efforts for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
Co-chairman Darwin Rittgers made the announcement during an event at the Sturdevant House, where the festival’s committee had brought large pieces of the wood from the bur oak tree that once stood outside City Hall to be used to restore the mantle at the house. Members of the Heritage Days committee and Historic Preservation Commission, along with Leisure Services staff were on hand for the announcement.
It was a surprise for Ray.
“I’m very pleased and honored, and I’m looking forward to riding on the fire truck at the front of the parade,” Ray said, as those in attendance chuckled.
“I think it’s fantastic (being honored for service). I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great honor, and there’s a whole list of people who are a lot better than me who have been grand marshal before me. I’m really honored.”
Corson said his nomination was above and beyond his expectations.
“I’m more than humbled, and I’m so excited for it,” Corson said. “It’s quite an honor.”
He could think of no one else other than Ray to share the marshaling duties with.
“Tab and I have worked with each other — of course, he was with the cemetery for so long, and I’m with the funeral home — Tab and I have known each other for as long as he’s been there and as long as I’ve been here,” Corson said. “I think it’s wonderful.
“He’s a great guy, just retired, and I think it’s a perfect fit.”
Ray appreciated his work being recognized over the years.
“Not only me, but the entire staff and the city have put in lots of time in terms of projects and planning and that sort of thing, trying to make Waverly a nice place to live,” he said.
Kris Brunkhorst, a member of the Historical Preservation Commission, said that Leisure Services, under Ray’s leadership, have gone the extra mile to make sure each event stands out.
“Thank you, very, very much, if I haven’t said so publicly,” Brunkhorst said. “Any time we ask for something, it’s there. I’m thinking of Garden Club and when I was on Heritage Days committee…”
Rittgers said Ray has been a friend of the community during his time with Leisure Services.
“Not only in his leadership role, but he actually wanted to be a part of it,” Rittgers said. “It wasn’t just an 8-hour job for him. With that, it just puts him at a higher level.”
Rittgers will be addressing the Waverly City Council on Monday to provide a rundown of the events at Heritage Days. However, he provided a copy of the brochure to Waverly Newspapers on Wednesday.
The theme of the town celebration is “New Leaves, Stronger Roots.” There are several new events that will happen during the weekend and beyond.
First, the committee and Waverly Newspapers are combining to offer a scavenger hunt starting the first week of July. Watch for more details later.
On opening night, following the weekly Greater Waverly Municipal Band concert, there will be a glow in the dark yoga session starting at 8:30 p.m. in Kohlmann Park. Also new for 2019 in the Kids Zone will be a military experience put on by the U.S. Army and Air Force from 4 to 8 p.m., along with a second VIP Princess Party session in the Droste Building.
New on Saturday will be a gun safety training class on the outdoor stage at noon, while in the Kids Zone from noon to 8 p.m., the Air Force will hold a game station and the Army will have an Ultimate Kids Zone Experience. There will also be a family yoga session from 1 to 1:30 p.m., sponsored by Yogi Life, along with a superhero meet-and-greet from 1 to 3 p.m.
Fitness enthusiasts will also have two new attractions on Saturday. First, KiloTrained will hold a demonstration and activities on the south side of the event tent from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and Yogi Life will have an all-levels session near the grandstand. On Sunday, there will be another yoga session in Kohlmann Park at 6 p.m.
The committee has also added a turkey calling contest at the outdoor stage at 4 p.m. Fireworks will continue to be held at 10 p.m., but this year, it will be shot from the dirt track.
Corson, one of the co-marshals, said he’s looking forward to seeing all of the people who will come out to the event.
“It’s a wonder tradition that Waverly’s had for many years,” he said. “I’ve looked at past grand marshals, and I just feel really, really honored to be in that group. There’s a lot of amazing people in there.”