Olympians to be featured as Grand Marshals
Worldwide fame has not caused local Olympic heroes, Ted Ligety and Stephani Victor, to lose sight of where they came from. The two will share the honor of being this year’s Co-Grand Marshals of the Park City Fourth of July Parade.
"I’ve always been a spectator, and enjoyed being a spectator at the parade, so taking part may be a little weird, and I won’t get to do as much shenanigans with my friends as usual, but this is such a great honor. To have the town honor our accomplishment at the Olympics and the Paralympics…well, it’s great. Yeah, it’ll be fun." said Ligety, the Olympic Alpine Combined gold medalist.
Victor sees this as an opportunity to display her patriotism.
"I’m very patriotic. I’m from the Heartland," said Iowa native Victor, the Paralympic slalom champion, World Cup slalom co-champion and reigning slalom world champion for sit-skiers. "My grandparents married on the Fourth of July, and as a family we always celebrated the Fourth: it’s meaningful and symbolic, and it’s always good to take a moment and give thanks for this country. I will show up and do as I’m told," she laughed, "and I’ll follow Ted’s lead. I’m really excited for this. It should be a lot of fun."
Along with choosing Victor and Ligety as Co-Grand Marshals, the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with the city and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), is sponsoring a float in this year’s parade to introduce Park City area athletes who competed in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and to celebrate their dedication and achievements in the world-wide event. When the parade is over, athletes will linger in the City Park for an autograph session.
Bill Malone, the executive director of Park City Chamber Bureau, expects 15-20 Olympic U.S. ski team members and a few other athletes from the sliding sports. He says there is room for 25-30 athletes on the float and all local Olympians will be invited.
"We will have a float that will be behind the Grand Marshals’ vehicle, where we are putting all of the athletes who are here that competed in ’06. We’ve reached out to the speed-skating community and the sliding sports and ski team. Right now we don’t have the list of who’s going to be in town, but the invite is anyone who competed in the Olympics that reside in this area," Malone said.
The Grand Marshal position over the years has gone to a wide variety of individuals who have made contributions to the city.
"We’ve chosen a variety of people over the years that have had long-term significant impact on the community as long-term residents," Malone said. "We’ve had a couple that lived here, born and raised and now in their 80s. We’ve had people that have served in the military or made important sacrifices. We’ve recognized people that were involved in the old mining industry and have helped the community in some fashion."
In choosing the local Olympians as this year’s Grand Marshals, the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau wanted to honor the accomplishments of the local athletes’ success in Torino, Italy.
"I think that many people in the community, back in February when the Olympics were going, saw Ted and Stephanie have the success that they did. We wanted to know, how do we recognize them?"
The life of Olympic gold medal athletes can be extremely busy after the Games. They go onto other competitions and charity events around the world. With the busy schedule, Malone and the chamber found it difficult to set up a formal event to honor their accomplishments. In consequence, Malone thought waiting until the summer during the Fourth of July would be the perfect opportunity to recognize the athletes.
"What better time than the fourth of July for all of the athletes that live in the Park City area. Let’s recognize them in one of the highest events in the community," Malone said. "We are real excited that both Ted and Stephanie have agreed to do this and found time to do this and a it’s a great opportunity for us to recognize their accomplishments as well.
Stephanie Victor and Ted Ligety have been chosen to be Co-Grand Marshals in Park City’s July Fourth Parade. The parade will take place, July 4 at 11 a.m. on historic Main Street. For more information call the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau at (800) 453-1360.
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