Strawberry Festival: Grand marshal goes the extra mile

Messenger photo by Mike Munden

Wayne Roberts will represent the Friends of Madison County Parks & Trails as grand marshal of this year’s London Strawberry Festival community parade. Roberts is president of FMCPT. He is shown here on the Roberts-Pass trail in London.

Wayne Roberts says he won’t really be the grand marshal of the 2008 London Strawberry Festival parade on June 21. The Friends of Madison County Parks & Trails (FMCPT) is receiving the honor, he said. “I just happen to be the president.”

While he is modest about his personal achievements, Roberts is incredibly proud of the work FMCPT does.

The non-profit organization is staffed by volunteers supporting the Madison County Park District and the City of London. FMCPT has been the driving force behind completion of Madison County’s portion of the Ohio to Erie Trail, which will run from the Ohio River to Lake Erie when finished.

The 6.5 miles of trail between Maple Street and Wilson Road in Madison County are named “Roberts Pass,” in honor of Roberts and his fellow volunteer, Gene Pass.

Pass was asked to sit alongside Roberts in the Strawberry Festival parade, however he had a prior commitment, his son’s wedding.

Instead, Roberts’ wife, Karen, will share the spotlight in the grand marshal’s convertible leading the parade, which Roberts says is fitting because spouses are so supportive of FMCPT volunteers and the time they dedicate to their cause.

The Robertses have lived at Lake Choctaw since 1983 and have raised three sons who still live in the area, Rob, Sean and Chris. Chris is a firefighter with the London Fire Department.

The youngest members of the family are grandchildren William, 2, and Isabella, 7 months. Grandmother Karen is working on a special Strawberry Festival dress for Isabella.

On the same day as the parade, Roberts will be busy helping with the fifth annual London Strawberry Festival Bicycle Tour. The tour was first organized in 2002 by Life Scout Chris Slagle of Boy Scout Troop 104 as part of his Eagle Scout project. It is being continued this year by the troop and FMCPT.

Roberts hopes for good participation in the tour, as well as FMCPT bicycle riders in the parade.

“I want to see a lot of green shirts out there,” he said.

Growing up in Michigan, Roberts attended the University of Toledo and Michigan State University. He only admits the latter by also noting that two of his sons went to The Ohio State University.

Roberts worked more than 31 years at AT&T, did non-profit work, served as executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Clark County, served on the board of Habitat for Humanity of Madison County, and worked at Good Earth Equipment on Route 56. Most recently he returned to do contract work for AT&T and has retired—again.

“I’m honored to be grand marshal of the Strawberry Festival parade,” he said. “I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

Most of all, Roberts said he wants to make more people aware of FMCPT. For details, go online to www.fmcpt.com.

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