Source: Sherman Publications

Remove Images

Moran named Grand Marshal for Strawberry Fest parade

by CJ Carnacchio

June 29, 2011

John Michael Moran, a Leonard resident for 44 years, was selected to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s Strawberry Festival parade on Saturday, July 16. He’s passionate about helping to develop the Leonard Nature Park. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
When the annual Strawberry Festival parade rolls through downtown Leonard on Saturday, July 16, it will be led by Grand Marshal John Michael Moran.

"I guess if you stay alive long enough, they make you Grand Marshal," said the 78-year-old, who's lived in Leonard since 1967. "I told them I'd do it if I didn't have to wear a tuxedo or carry a scepter."

All kidding aside, Moran sees the title as an "honor" and one more way he can serve the village he loves so much. He's truly humbled by the title.

"I know everybody on the festival committee, but I never thought they'd ask me," he noted.

Moran's one of those behind-the-scenes guys who's done lots of good things for the town. He's never sought attention or wanted folks to make a fuss over his contributions.

"He's a very quiet contributor and a very generous person. He doesn't make a lot of noise," said Leonard Village Councilwoman Char Sutherby, who serves on the summer festival committee.

"I've helped out the village for quite a few years," Moran said. "I used to work on their equipment when Charlie Hamilton was head of the Department of Public Works. If he needed something fixed, I'd go up and fix it for him."

"If (the DPW's) equipment was down, he'd go get his tractor, or whatever he had, to help with road work," Sutherby noted.

Moran's certainly no stranger to the mechanical side of things having spent 30 years working for Ford. He started as a test driver and retired as a supervisor.

These days Moran serves on the committee that's been actively developing and maintaining the Leonard Nature Park, a 3.1-acre passive park located just south of the Polly Ann Trail on the east side of Forest St. (Rochester Rd.). "The village's never really had a park," Moran said. "I just thought it was a good idea."

He's almost always at the park helping to clear dead ash trees, burn brush piles, mow, whatever needs to be done.

"He's been very supportive of the park and donated a lot of time and a lot of equipment down there," Sutherby said.

"We're always looking for volunteers to help out with the park," Moran noted.

Moran's favorite portions of the village's annual Strawberry Festival are the parade and visiting with folks "you haven't seen in a while; people that have moved out."

"It's about the biggest thing that happens in town," he said. His sons, Michael Moran, of Madison Heights, and Tom Ballard, of Brown City, usually attend the festival.

After living in Leonard for 44 years, Moran has no plans to hang his hat anywhere else.

He loves the fact that Leonard is still "quiet and all the people say 'hello' to each other on the street."

"I used to live in Rochester, but it got too crowded down that way," he said.