What is a parade grand marshal?

Answer

A parade grand marshal is a public figure who controls the event, according to Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Most parade grand marshals are honorary and don't actually control the parade, but instead are given a place of honor at the beginning of the procession.

Parade grand marshals can be anyone related to the area or festival. A grand marshal of a local parade can be a town's official or the winner of a beauty pageant. Some Christmas parades feature pageant winners alongside a grand marshal riding in places of honor. Grand marshals can be celebrities, sports figures, government officials or local heroes. Grand marshals are often chosen by the parade's organizing committee.

The Tournament of Roses parade has had many high-profile grand marshals. Shirley Temple presided over the parade a record three times in her life before she died in 2014. The actress was the grand marshal in 1939, 1989 and 1999. She was positioned on the lead float for the famous parade's 50th and 100th anniversary.

Sometimes, a parade grand marshal's duties are taken seriously. Two grand marshals of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's annual spring parade resigned before performing their duties. One grand marshal dropped out of school and therefore couldn't participate in the spring ritual.

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