by TaLeiza Calloway
For years Joe Bechtold has helped with the coordination of the annual Fourth of July parade, organized by the St. Joseph Lions Club. Working behind the scenes, one has a limited view of the parade.
This year, he will get to see it from a different view – as its grand marshal.
Bechtold was named the grand marshal of the parade earlier this month. He is looking forward to the new role but is modest about his selection for the post.
“I’m sure there were better people for the job,” Bechtold said. “But’s that’s OK. It’ll be fun.”
St. Joseph Lions Club member Bernie Schloemer nominated Bechtold. The men served alongside one another on the St. Joseph Township Board. For Schloemer, it is Bechtold’s involvement in addition to his volunteer work as a township officer that made him deserving of the appointment.
“He’s a very active person, very community-minded,” Schloemer said. “He was very dedicated to the township.”
This involvement includes help with lunch at All Saints Academy (formerly the St. Joseph Lab School), serving on the St. Joseph Township Board for 27 years, serving on the Joint Fire Board and even helping to initiate brat sales at the St. Joseph Meat Market.
“Since he’s retired he’s done so much,” Schloemer said, “and he asks for nothing in return.”
Bechtold has been a member of the St. Joseph Lions Club for six years. During that time, he and his wife, Joanne, have served as co-chairs for the parade and on the parade committee for several of those years. In fact, he is co-chair of this year’s event.
He said he will still help with the setup of the parade, but this time he will get to line up with everyone else. One perk of being the grand marshal is unlike previous years, he said he will be able to see more spectators.
The annual parade is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 4 in St. Joseph. It will feature new float categories. They are the following: Wow! Extreme!, Best Dressed Business, Classy Vehicles, Cool Youth, Animals and Fourth of July Theme.