|By Chris Maza|
EAST LONGMEADOW The East Longmeadow Fourth of July Parade has its next grand marshal.
James Davis, a resident of the town since 1937, was introduced as the 16th honorary leader of the celebration at the Annual Town Meeting on May 20. He was selected by a nominating committee made up of past grand marshals.
"Some of the considerations are that the person has participated in town events, has served on committees, has volunteered for various activities, has been an active member of a civic group," Carl Ohlin, chair of the Fourth of July Parade Committee, said. "Basically, it's someone who has brought us to the state we are as a community and we are blessed to have a host of people like this in our community ... Our person this year is certainly in that category."
After a standing ovation, Davis briefly thanked the town and the Parade Committee for the honor.
"I really appreciate this. It's a surprise. I'm at a loss for words," he said.
Davis also took the opportunity to honor Ohlin.
"To me, the person who will always be deserving of being grand marshal for our parade is this man," he said.
Davis, a husband and father of two with five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, is a veteran of the Air Force and was a special police officer for the town in the 1950s. He was co-owner of a local business, Suburban Cabinet, for more than 30 years and a member of the Massachusetts Homebuilders' Association.
He has also been an active member of the East Longmeadow Jaycees and the Lions Club for 30 years.
As a member of the Lions Club, he served as president in 1980 and 1981. He was elected Lion of the Year in 1989 and 1990 and received the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award.
"That is the highest award given in the Lions organization," Davis said.
He was also named a Lions Club Distinguished Citizen in 2007.
He is an active member of the First Congregational Church and served on its board of directors. In 2004, he received the church's Outstanding Fellowship Award.
In addition to those endeavors, Davis is responsible for the manger scene that is erected each year in the center of town during the Christmas season.
"I think we all know how that adds to the Christmas season that we have and we all look forward to it," Ohlin said.
Davis also is an active member of the Historical Commission and has acted as its treasurer for 15 years.
He also works at the polls at all town elections.
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