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Ambassadors on the hunt for new members

Skiers are still flocking to the resorts, but it’s not too early to be thinking about the 4th of July.

The Park City Ambassadors, the organization that serves as the volunteer arm of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, have not only been thinking about it, but have been planning the celebration since last October. Eight-year Ambassadors member and past president Gene Hamble has already scheduled the Hill Air Force flyover. They have also been talking to a 70-plus marching band, though it hasn’t been confirmed, he says.

"The parade is nothing you start thinking about in May," he confirms. "There’s a lot that has to be done."

Unfortunately, this year, the Park City Ambassadors’ numbers are slim, according to Karen Grooms, the organization’s membership chairman.

"I think like any volunteer organization, people do it for a while and want to try something new people also move out of town," she explained.

Currently, Park City Ambassadors report that there are 54 members and only 80 percent of membership, on average, tends to be available to lend a hand come 4th of July. An event as large as the 4th of July requires 70 to 90 volunteers.

"A lot of it has to do with controlling the mass of people who invade Park City," stressed Park City Ambassador President Dick Vennett, who co-chairs the 4th of July organization committee. "A lot of people on the sidewalk will be stacked six to eight people deep As the parade has grown larger, it’s required more of us as an organization."

He says the summer parade typically draws upwards of 14,000 to Old Town and lower Park Avenue.

Additional parade tasks include managing entertainment, hiring announcers, judges, golf carts, food, decorations, permits, banners and posters. Though some volunteer for the entire day, according to Grooms, volunteers can work as many hours as they wish on the holiday.

Park City Ambassadors also help to nominate and elect the grand marshals of the parade.

Past 4th of July grand marshals have included 2006 Olympic Gold Medallists Ted Ligety and Stephani Victor, World War II veteran Charles "Moose" Smith, Iraq Desert Storm veteran Brandi Larsen and Park City Historical Society and Museum research historian Hal Compton.

Bill Brown will be the Grand Marshal for this year’s parade.

Brown, and his wife, Joyce, moved to Park City on a full-time basis in 1990 after retiring from a long career in commercial and industrial contraction and construction management in California, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and Hong Kong.

Those who make the annual trek to Main Street on July 4 might also remember him as the man at the helm of an antique horse-drawn road scraper in the 4th of July Parade. He’s also been known to drive a hearse he restored in the parade as a nod to his involvement on the board of the historic Glenwood Cemetery.

According to the Park City Ambassadors, Brown was chosen for his avid community involvement over the years, including being a charter member of the Sunrise Rotary Club, a member of Leadership Park City, and serving as Vice Chairman of the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District Board of Trustees since 2000. He is also a member of the Park City Ambassadors, and served Park City Municipal during the 2002 Olympics by placing and servicing 40 fire cauldrons. In 2005, the Ambassadors say the Park City Rotary named Brown "Park City Citizen of the Year."

Though Brown’s community-giving resume may outshine most Parkites, the Park City Ambassadors welcome volunteers with or without volunteering experience. Members volunteer on a regular basis at the Park City Visitors’ Center at Kimball Junction and on the streets of Old Town on the weekends.

The 20-year-old organization meets on the third Thursday of every month. Meetings include a guest speaker to help keep their Park City knowledge sharp and a light meal.

"It’s not all work and no play," assures Hamble. "We have our fun as well."

The Ambassadors are currently accepting applications for parade floats until May 15. Entry is open to everyone, and floats of any size bicycles, wagons, horses — are welcome, so long as they are decorated. Floats will be judged by theme interpretation, beauty, artistry and originality. This year’s theme is "Happy Birthday USA."

Park City Ambassadors meet at the Prudential Building next to the post office on Park Avenue. The group meets the third Thursday of each month. Social hour with free wine and beverages and light meals begin at 6 p.m. For more information about volunteering, call 658-9620.


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