(Posted Aug. 9, 2018)
Trinity Homecoming Festival
Trinity United Methodist Church of Lilly Chapel, 8530 Lilly Chapel Georgesville Road, London, is holding its 35th annual homecoming festival and parade.
Saturday, Aug. 18
Noon–Grand opening featuring Madison-Plains High School marching band
2 p.m.–Kiddie pedal pull
3:30 p.m.–“Enabling Grace” (southern gospel music)
5 p.m.–Conclusion of silent auction
6 p.m.–Live auction
All day–Food, crafts, goodies tent, bounce houses, bake sale
By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer
There is no criteria to be met when it comes to serving as grand marshal for the Lilly Chapel Homecoming, yet its selection committee likes to honor those who have reached a milestone in life.
Throughout its history, business owners, famed hometown athletes, and nonagenarians have taken their place in an open-top convertible, waving to the crowd lining the streets in the tiny burg outside of West Jefferson as they lead the parade, but this year will mark a turn from the noted adult grand marshals of before.
When the day-long festival steps off at the Godden Farm in the late morning on Aug. 18, a 6-year-old boy named Isaac Osmundson will be the face of the beloved event, making history as the youngest to serve as grand marshal.
Sandy Conner, one of the homecoming committee coordinators, explained that it made sense to select him for the distinction because he continues to reach milestones despite his age.
“He’s come a long way in such a short amount of time,” she said.
Isaac’s journey began at 18 months when his parents, Jennifer and Jon, noticed that he wasn’t quite meeting the same developmental benchmarks as his five older brothers and sisters.
“We didn’t think too much of it at the time, but then it seemed as if he was reverting backwards,” said Jennifer.
He started speaking in “baby babble” for words he previously picked up, he never wanted his mother to leave his side, and he became less affectionate.
After numerous rounds of testing, Isaac was deemed at 3 years old to be on the autism spectrum.
At this time in their lives, the Osmundson family was living in Lilly Chapel, having moved from Circleville in 2014 so Jon could preside in the Trinity United Methodist Church. Though it was a trying time, and often continues to be, Pastor Jon said the family feels blessed to have been in this community at the time of Isaac’s diagnosis.
“This community has been with us through the early stages and all of our struggles,” he said. “They’ve helped Isaac through his growth, they were with us when he had a severe infection and they have truly accepted him for who he is.”
The congregation, said Jennifer, even encourages him as he runs up and down the aisle during service.
“He feels comfortable here and safe,” she said.
Since the official diagnosis nearly three years ago, Isaac’s parents say he has grown by “leaps and bounds” thanks in large part to the professionals at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the staff at the local school district, the community, and Isaac’s own determination to learn.
“I’ve learned that when you have an autistic child, you have to get in their world and go with their flow,” said Jennifer.
Jon said that though the journey has not been easy, and that there have been setbacks along the way, he sees the brightest of futures for his son and those in similar situations.
“You just have to give them a chance and accept them for who they are,” he said.
In addition to naming Isaac the grand marshal, the committee announced that the theme for this year’s homecoming parade is “All on the Spectrum of God’s Love.” During the festival, there will be an information booth and distribution of literature on autism awareness and resources for parents
Jennifer and Jon called the announcement of the theme and the naming of Isaac as grand marshal a humbling experience.
“Isaac may not understand the gravity of this yet, but one day I think he will,” said Jon.