Bobbi French Announced as Inaugural Grand Marshal

Downtown Manhattan, Inc. and the 2023 Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade Committee announce Bobbi French as the Inaugural Grand Marshal of the 22nd annual holiday parade. Over the years the parade has undergone many changes, experienced a lot of growth and remains a community favorite event. This year is no exception and in fact, has reached a record number of entries!

Gina Snyder, Executive Director of Downtown Manhattan, Inc., is pleased with the numbers. "We have been chasing the "largest lighted holiday parade in Kansas" title for years now. And while we aren't quite there, we are a close second. The thing about this parade that makes it so special are the sheer number of families, children, community organizations, educational institutions and small businesses that participate. The parade is a real representation of Manhattan."

The parade committee, made up of a group of volunteers and led by Snyder and Karla Hagemeister, Executive Director of the Flint Hills Breadbasket, realized that the parade lacked a formal representation of the community. "We wanted a Grand Marshal that reflected Manhattan's shared values and is clearly a steward of the people in our community" said Hagemeister. Nominations were made, a vote was taken and Bobbi French, owner of G. Thomas Jewelers was named the 2023 Spirit of the Holidays Lighted parade Grand Marshal. 

Bobbi French is a long time business owner in Manhattan and volunteers her time with local organizations. Most recently she has been named to the Board of Directors of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation. Bobbi has given her time and resources to the Manhattan Emergency Shelter, the Good Shepherd Hospice House, Downtown Manhattan, Inc., the Johnson Cancer Research Center, Flint Hills Foster Team Camp and the Common Table, to name just a few. Bobbi has been instrumental in calling attention to the various Blessing Boxes around town and prioritizes stocking them frequently. She is the owner of the Tell Me Something Good Facebook page that came about during Covid as a way to share good news, during hard times. In 2021, Bobbi was awarded the Business Philanthropist Award at the Community Founation Awards. It is only fitting that she represents Manhattan during this magical time of the year. 

More than 30 people volunteer their time in the planning and execution of the parade including the K-State Baseball Team. As part of their 19 Ways community initiative program, the team has been volunteering in the staging area for 5 years. The parade would not be successful without the support of the City of Manhattan, Parks Dept. and RCPD. The parade is Friday, December 1st at 5:30 p.m. It will travel along Poyntz Ave to Aggieville and finish at the bandshell in City Park at the ceremonial Mayor's Tree Lighting ceremony. 

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