Davis back as Parade Grand Marshal

Published 12:49 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

Longtime Peach Festival Chairman Richard Davis was the grand marshal in Saturday's Peach Parade.

The annual Peach Festival Parade was held June 25. The parade route followed along Alabama 145 from the Fred’s parking lot to U.S. 31 and back up Sixth Street.

Featured in the parade were the newly crowned Peach Queens, high school bands, fire trucks, horses and antique tractors.

Arguably, though, the crowd favorite was parade grand marshal Richard Davis. Davis was the driving force behind the Lion’s Club’s involvement with the Peach Festival for many years until an illness sidelined him in 2009.

“He and (wife) Gwen were the face of the Peach Festival,” said Lion’s Club president Tony Hughes. “They worked countless hours.”

Gwen Davis said her husband got involved in the Peach Festival to help promote Chilton County’s peach farmers: “That’s one reason he worked so hard.”

Truth be told, there was a bit of uncertainty as to whether Davis would participate in the parade.

“I didn’t think he’d do it,” said Gwen Davis. “He’d never even seen a parade, much less been in one. When the floats would leave the fairgrounds, he’d leave and go to the Peach Auction and work it.”

Davis became the Festival’s organizer in 1998. Along with organizing the event, Davis was the organizer of the East-West Baseball Classic and took the Peach Queens to their many engagements.

“He loved to help young people,” Mrs. Davis said. “He did the East-West game when we first moved back in 1973. He really misses the Queens. He tried to make [the role of queen] all about them, and try to get them to bond. He never wanted to show partiality, so he made sure he never knew any of the [Peach Queen] judges.”

Davis spent 147 consecutive days in the hospital after becoming ill in 2009. For a man so used to doing everything, the slow process of recovery has been tough. Plus, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be back to 100 percent.

“It’s hard not to be involved,” said Mrs. Davis. “He’s getting better every day, but I doubt he’ll be able to come back [to organizing the event].”

Which is why hearing the support from the people of Chilton County as they led the way Saturday meant so much to them.

“I’m just proud he was well enough to do it,” said Mrs. Davis. “It was nice to hear people recognize him.”

Richard Davis wanted to make sure people knew he appreciated the kind words.

“It meant a lot,” he said.