By Travis Mounts, TSnews
CLEARWATER – A longtime Clearwater resident will lead this year’s parade at the Clearwater Fall Festival, which runs Oct. 14-16.
Kathy Merchant has been named as the grand marshal. Born and reared in Wichita, she moved to Clearwater, Fla., before coming back to Kansas 17 years ago and settling in Clearwater. She has worked at Emprise Bank for 17 years.
Merchant has an infectious laugh, and approached her nomination with a healthy sense of humor.
“Isn’t that hilarious? I think it’s hilarious,” she said about being grand marshal. “Who turned it down?”
Many people think she is deserving because of how involved she is with her adopted hometown.
“I was looking to settle in a small town. I wanted something quieter,” Merchant said.
She returned to help care for her brother who was battling a terminal illness. She continues to care for others in lots of different ways.
Merchant is raising two grandchildren. She volunteers at the local nursing home, frequently befriending residents who don’t have family or friends nearby. She spent four years as treasurer for the Clearwater Fall Festival committee, and then came back as interim treasurer. She’s been active in Christmas Comes to Clearwater, the downtown Halloween celebration, shop local efforts, and the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce.
One year, Merchant dressed up as Mrs. Claus, and she’s dressed up as an elf.
“I love to dress up,” she said.
Decorating for the holidays is another love.
“I love to decorate Clearwater. I find things at estate sales and garage sales from customers,” she said.
Merchant described herself as boring, and said she doesn’t really have hobbies that she spends her time on.
“I take care of people,” she said.
The Clearwater Fall Festival parade will begin at 10 a.m. Most events will take place in or near Clearwater Park, on Ross Avenue just to the west of Fourth Avenue.
As for the parade, Merchant said attendees should keep their eyes open. It turns out, being grand marshal is another opportunity to dress up.