Longtime Mt. Pleasant festival committee member to serve as parade marshal

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Mt. Pleasant Borough's streets will be lined with spectators two and three deep when the annual Glass and Ethnic Festival parade rolls down Main Street at 2 p.m. Sept. 28.

Leading the way this year will be longtime festival committee member Marie Albertini Dawson as official parade marshal.

Whether it be taking thousands of photos or dressing as an elf, Dawson has been a festival fixture and trooper over the 26 years she served.

“When you think of a volunteer and someone who will do whatever is needed when it is needed to make something a success, you think of Marie Dawson,” festival committee co-chairman Jeff Landy said.

In past years, the committee asked sponsors to hold the distinguished position. But beginning last year with Rich Kujawa, the group now honors its longtime volunteers' hard work and dedication to the annual event by having them head the parade.

Dawson, whose quick sense of humor always shines through, said her initial reaction when asked to lead the parade was not one of excitement.

“I said ‘no,'” laughed Dawson. “Jeff (Landy) came into my office and asked me and I said no. He said he was going to sit there until I changed my mind. After what seemed like about 45 minutes of him sitting there with his arms crossed, I said, ‘Will you go away if I say maybe?'”

Dawson started with the festival after she attended the first festival.

“My mother had just passed away and I was really down in the dumps,” Dawson said. “So I went down to the festival. I was leaning up against the tree that used to be there in the park and Jake Zelmore's band started to play ‘Amazing Grace.' I felt like it was an omen, so I just called up to the borough office and asked if they needed any volunteers.”

Since then, Dawson has been an integral part of the committee, participating in various subgroups and committees while being in charge of the brochures, contacting the dozens of sponsors, and taking photos.

“I take about 2,000 photos every night,” Dawson said, adding that they are then separated and placed into books so each year of the festival has its own album.

Dawson's meticulous work with the albums and her attention to detail were instrumental in the festival being inducted into the Library of Congress in 2000.

“Jack Murtha told me about it years ago and asked me to get everything together,” Dawson said of their submission for consideration. “We were then told we would be in the Library of Congress and a group of us went to Washington D.C. It was really neat. Anybody now that visit's the library can look it up under “local legacies.”

Dawson said she has never been in the parade, that this will be a first for her.

“I've always been busy doing something else,” Dawson said. “This will be totally different for me.”

Dawson will be riding in the lead car with her grandson Killian Dawson, 11, and her granddaughters Sylvia Dawson, 12, and Abigale Dawson, 8, who are thrilled to be a part of the festivities.

“(They) can't wait,” Dawson said. “They are really excited.”

Dawson said the festival has been a continued success because of the generous sponsors that contribute every year and the wonderful group of people who make up the committees.

“Things have changed over the years, but they have changed for the better,” Dawson said. “We have a good group of sponsors and a great committee who all work really well together.

“Over the years I have made many friends and it's always so nice when people come up to you at the festival and say, ‘Thank you, I had a good time.' When you hear that, you know it's all been worth it.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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