By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
EAST LONGMEADOW – The East Longmeadow Fourth of July Parade
Committee announced resident Ned Obernesser would be this year’s grand marshal.
Committee Co-Chair Carl Ohlin made the announcement prior to the commencement of voting at the Annual Town Meeting on May 19.
Obernesser, the 17th person to be selected grand marshal, spoke only briefly to the small group of residents assembled in the East Longmeadow High School auditorium, expressing gratitude and shock.
“This is truly a surprise. I hoped to come here tonight to help our School Department pass the school budget, and lo and behold, there were some ulterior reasons for my wife bringing me down here this evening,” he joked. “I thank everybody very much and hope everybody comes out to the Fourth of July Parade.”
Ohlin explained the parade’s grand marshal is selected every year by a group of past grand marshals and must display a strong commitment to the community based on a specific set of established standards.
“Basically the grand marshal has to have overall contributed to improving the quality of life in East Longmeadow,” he said.
Obernesser, a resident since 1973, is married with three children and was a longtime employee at Pratt and Whitney in Hartford, Conn., before retiring in 2004. He is an Army combat veteran, having earned several medals and commendations during his service in the Vietnam War, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
He is a member of the American Legion and the Knights of Columbus and is an active participant in the town’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremonies.
Ohlin explained Obernesser has been especially active in the town’s youth sports programs, having coached tee ball, basketball and chaperoned ski trips, and was president of the East Longmeadow Soccer Association for more than a decade.
“He was involved in a program that has quadrupled in size with the number of youth participating,” Ohlin said. “He worked with and advised representatives from Longmeadow to assist them in starting their soccer program when the need arose due to much interest after observing the success of the program in East Longmeadow.”
Ohlin pointed out he was also one of the first residents to support the installation of lighting the sports fields at the high school.
“He united the bond between the football and soccer programs that led to the lighting of the athletic stadium in 1990,” Ohlin said.
He was also one of the founders of the East Longmeadow High School Athletics Hall of Fame.