Christmas parade grand marshals, honorary marshal, starter announced

October 29, 2023 | 12:08 am

Updated October 30, 2023 | 2:14 pm

Pictured from left are Sophia Westerfield, Molly and Heath Eric, and Barb Birgy.

The Owensboro-Daviess County Christmas Parade Association has announced this year’s grand marshals, honorary marshals, and parade starter. The parade is set for November 18 with the theme “The Gift of Christmas.” The organization is also still accepting float registrations, with discounted pricing through midnight on October 31.

The grand marshals for the 2023 parade are Heath and Molly Eric, professional musicians who are also Owensboro natives. The honorary grand marshal is Barb Birgy and the WBKR Christmas Wish volunteers, while 2nd-grader Sophia Westerfield is the official parade starter.

“It’s an incredible honor to be grand marshals for the Owensboro-Daviess County Christmas Parade,” Heath Eric said. “The parade is a staple of the Christmas season in our area, and something families eagerly anticipate each year to kick off the Holiday season. We have fond childhood memories of the parade, and it’s exciting to be a part of the festivities now.”

The Erics are both proud graduates of Owensboro Community & Technical College and Western Kentucky University-Owensboro Campus.

During their careers, they have released 5 full-length recording projects and performed across America and Europe. They have traveled to the Czech Republic twice, representing Owensboro and Owensboro Sister Cities & Region while performing at numerous events, festivals, and schools.

In 2013, they were commissioned as Kentucky Colonels for outstanding achievements while representing the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since 2021, Molly has served as a volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocate for CASA of Ohio Valley. Heath has previously served as President-Elect for the Kentucky Events & Festivals Association and was on the board for the International BBQ Festival.

“Owensboro and the surrounding region have been an integral part of our lives,” the duo said. “The support and opportunities we have enjoyed from people and organizations have been instrumental in our careers and personal lives. We were both born in Owensboro. We went to school here. We went to college here. Our son attended Owensboro Public Schools K-12 and graduated in 2023 from OHS. Owensboro Sister Cities & Regions gave us the opportunity to take our music abroad and represent Owensboro on tour in the Czech Republic. We’ve worked, learned, and grown here. We have lifelong friends, families, partners, and fans here. We work with amazing clients and venues in this region. We can’t think of any place we’d rather be to continue to grow our business, serve our communities, and produce concerts & events that have a positive impact in western Kentucky.” 

Birgy, executive director of Christmas Wish, said she’s grateful to be the honorary grand marshal but credited the volunteers with the organization.

“The most important thing to stress is that it’s about the volunteers and how hard they work all season,” Birgy said. “Many have been a part of the program for 10-30 years. Christmas Wish wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers today and the ones that came before them over the last 46 years. I’m beyond grateful for them to get this special recognition.” 

In 2022, 6,351 volunteer hours were donated to help grant 1,940 Christmas Wish letters and serve 8,176 children. More than 50,000 toys, clothes and coats were delivered and Santa delivered a bike to all who requested. 

For the last 8 years, Birgy — who is also a radio announcer and promotions director at WBKR — has supported the Christmas Wish mission of “every child in the tri-state gets a visit from Santa on Christmas.”

The program runs on around $500 to $800 annually — but mostly on volunteers and donations. Volunteers will be needed starting November 15. If individuals or businesses would like to volunteer, they can email [email protected].

The Christmas Wish office will be located in Towne Square North in the former Shoe Stop location by Big Lots. The soft opening is November 27 and the grand opening day is December 4. 

“We work hand in hand with all of the school resource officers in the area to help identify needs,” Birgy said. “We also work with other non-profits (like Toys for Tots) to make sure that no child is left behind.”

Westerfield, age 8, is serving as the official parade starter and will kick things off alongside Kirk Kirkpatrick. She enjoys dance and singing and loves being a Girl Scout. Westerfield is the daughter of Matthew Westerfield and Charity Steele, step-daughter of Caitlyn Westerfield and Jacob Steele, and granddaughter of Byron and Gayla Westerfield. 

The parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. on November 18 at the corner of 2nd and Pearl streets.

Through midnight on October 31, applicants can take advantage of an Early Bird rate with an entry fee of $50 for nonprofits and $150 for commercial groups. The last day to submit applications is November 7.

For more information on the application process, click here.

October 29, 2023 | 12:08 am

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