Honorary grand marshals excited to celebrate with community

Julie and Joel Young will serve as this year’s honorary grand marshals at the Chatfield Western Days parade. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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They’re the Youngs and the Not So Restless.

“We have been living in Chatfield since 1983, having moved in on Halloween of that year,” recalled Joel Young. “We married in 1982, and we came to Chatfield with the intention of starting new careers for both of us – Julie is a graduate of Central Michigan University, and I graduated from what was then called Ferris State College, now Ferris State University, which is where the two of us met.”

Joel, Chatfield’s longtime city clerk, and his wife, Julie, who has worked for Chatfield’s school district for nearly three decades, are the 2018 Chatfield Western Days honorary grand marshals, and they have to admit the truth.

Joel stated, “We never expected to live in Chatfield for more than just a few years, quite frankly, but it didn’t take too long to realize what a great place this is – for raising a family, for enjoying the environment and life in general. After about our third year here, Chatfield began to feel like our home and has been so ever since.”

Julie shared, “Our three kids have grown up here, with Andrew living in Rochester, Alecs just south of Houston, Texas, and Sophie in Rochester.”

She cited that her growing up took place in Michigan. “I grew up in southeastern Michigan. I’m the oldest of my parents’ kids, and my dad is an entrepreneur who has developed real estate and several businesses, and my mom raised our family,” Julie said. “She was good at providing us with a safe and enriching life for us and for other children in need as she did emergency foster care services on a moment’s notice.”

Joel is a Minnesota native, even though he and Julie would be mistaken today for being Chatfield natives as well.

“I grew up in southwestern Minnesota, and my dad was a teacher and a coach, and my mom was a homemaker when I was growing up, and she also worked at our local care center and other places,” he said.

Joel went on to highlight that their “temporary” post-honeymoon year stop in Chatfield – the one that found them to be a lot less restless to move to another town – has proven itself to be what’s given them careers and friends.

“We have both made our careers out of public service, and we’re both very grateful for the opportunity for Julie to have taught in the Chatfield school system since 1984, and for my being able to work for the city since 1991,” Joel said. “Both of those careers give us a chance to interact with so many people from all walks of life, and we appreciate how those interactions, both joyful and challenging, have molded us over the years.”

He outlined, “Part of the beauty of living in Chatfield has been our ability to be involved in the community – we feel fortunate to have been welcomed into many organizations where we have been made to feel at home and where we’ve been given an opportunity to contribute in our own little way…we really appreciate the opportunities that have been offered to us by groups like Chatfield Lutheran Church, the Jaycees and the Rotary Club, the Chatfield Commercial Club, the golf club and more.”

His wife, who has chaired Chatfield’s Habitat for Humanity group for the past few years, concurred, “We both feel really lucky for all that we have benefited from our life in Chatfield. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to work with like-minded people who want to do things like support Habitat for Humanity or to start an art center, and it is amazing to watch the people in the area support each other in times of need. Chatfield is a good place.”

Joel looks forward to riding with Julie in the 2018 Chatfield Western Days grand parade on Saturday, Aug. 11.

“The honor of serving as the honorary grand marshals of this year’s Western Days event is still something we’re trying to digest. It’s pretty amazing, actually. We really appreciate the work that so many volunteers put in to make this celebration happen,” Joel said.

While they were not on the scene for the first years of Western Days, he said he and Julie think about what it must have been like that first year, when the celebration took place at the Ward farm.

“It’s fun to think about how a single event started as an idea in one person’s mind, how that idea took root and then, with others, came the courage to ‘give it a try,’ and now Chatfield is known for one of the best community celebrations in the area, 51 years later,” he said.

Joel complimented those people who made a great contribution to the community and demonstrated that anybody and everybody has an opportunity to shape the community’s future, “which is something we should all aspire to do.”

Joel and Julie would like to congratulate and thank the Chatfield Saddle Club and those people who got this started, and, of course, the many, many other people who have grown the celebration to what it is today.

Julie concluded, “We greatly appreciate this honor, and we look forward to celebrating with all of you. Enjoy Western Days 2018!”