Isn’t it Grand?

TimesObserver.com hosting online voting for 5 worthy nominees for Grand Marshal of 2016 Christmas Parade

Rich Geer
Marcy O'Brien
Terry Pearson
Annamarie Miller
Derick Nowacki

The Times Observer is holding online voting for five worthy nominees as Grand Marshal for our 2016 Christmas Parade, which will be held Dec. 2, beginning in front of the Times Observer at 205 Pennsylvania Ave., and heading west on Pennsylvania Ave. toward the Christmas Walk.

Online voting begins Monday at timesobserver.com.

“All five nominees are already worthy of being our Grand Marshal,” said TO Publisher Bob Patchen. “That’s why this has been a fun process — selecting a 2016 Grand Marshal has already been worth it. Any notoriety we can give our nominees through an online voting process promotes our community, and reminds us of how proud we are of who’s in it.”

Bios for each of the nominees — Derick Nowacki, Rich Geer, Annamarie Miller, Terry Pearson, and Marcy O’Brien — follow:


Christmas is for the young at heart.

That’s the impetus behind the nomination of 17-year-old Derick Nowacki as Grand Marshal of the 2016 Warren Christmas Parade, which will be held Dec. 2, from the Times Observer building in downtown Warren.

Nowacki is vice president of his senior class at Warren Area High School, a member of the National Honor Society and a golfer and on the track team.

It’s outside the classroom, Nowacki mostly impacts his community and separates himself as a leader. Quite literally.

Nowacki has recently promoted to chief of the Warren Law Enforcement Explorer Post 312, a Boys Scouts law enforcement division with the City of Warren Police. It’s a great start for Nowacki, who is going to attend college to major in Nursing, but he ultimately wants to become a state police trooper.

He’s experienced hands-on training in finger printing at special events through his Explorers post, and has “learned to speak with the public and relate to them on a personal level,” he said.

“It means a lot to me to be the grand marshal,” said Nowacki of his nomination. “I have served the Warren community for a few years and hope to continue serving the community for many more. I care greatly about the people of Warren County and hope that they choose me to be their grand marshal.”

He joined Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Department in 2014 as a junior member, and attends classes on firefighting. He also joined Glade Township Volunteer Fire Department to help with water rescue, and is classified as an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder).

“He takes pride in his community and wants to come back after he graduates from college,” said his grandmother, Mrs. Josephine Scully.


“That guy at the Post Office” was the headline of a Sept. 3, 2015, feature story in the Times Observer of Rich Geer, of the Warren Post Office. See smile in photo.

“Some of us know Rich Geer as a guitarist and songwriter…

“Some of us know Rich Geer as a transplant from McKean County who has unabashedly fallen in love with Warren…

“But most of us know Rich Geer as ‘that guy at the post office’ who greets everyone like an old friend and makes standing in line tolerable for most of us and sometimes even enjoyable.”

Those were the words to start the feature story and, much like that interview, Geer did nothing but joyfully laugh and smile at the thought of someone or more than one person nominating him to be considered the Grand Marshal of the 2016 Warren Christmas Parade.

“I believe that Rich at the Warren Post Office should be the Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade,” said his nominator. “Rich and his wonderful smile always treat customers with respect and consideration at his window. No one is busier at Christmas time than Rich. While helping people with their mail and packages being sent to who knows where, he is always a delight. It is for this reason I am nominating him.”

“It’s a great honor to be nominated for this,” said Geer. “Wow! Thank you! What a great time of year.”


“p1″>”Annamarie has been a faithful and committed downtown merchant all of her adult life,” said her nominator. “She has worked at her family’s business since childhood and is now the third generation owner of VirgAnn’s. Her daughter, Stephanie Sample, is a teacher by profession and helps at VirgAnn’s on weekends and in the summer.  Her husband, Dave Miller, a mailman by occupation, is also a fairly regular part-time employee.

“p1″>”In addition to owning and operating a family legacy business, the employees of VirgAnn’s… even the part-timers, are treated as family. Store picnics, holiday celebrations, and craft nights are planned as after-hours entertainment for employees.  When the store hosts a public open house, a back room feast is laid out for staffers.

“Annamarie is the most appropriate candidate for the Christmas Parade, especially this year.

“p1″>”As the owner of a flower and gift shop, she works hard to make her shop special for every holiday, but especially for Christmas.  What makes it especially right to honor her as Grand Marshall this year is that VirgAnn’s has been recognized by the WCCBI for having been in business for 70 years.

“Without Annamarie, downtown Warren would not have VirgAnn’s as a legacy business and Pennsylvania Avenue West would be without the welcoming and cheerful windows that beckon and welcome residents and visitors alike.”

“p1″>”It is sheer excitement and a humbling honor to be considered as the Grand Marshall of the Warren Christmas Parade,” said Miller. “The Christmas parade is a  downtown Warren tradition in my family for many years. Memories  as a  child growing up in the family flower shop  the fun preparing, decorating, and transforming the shop windows for the season.   The evening of the parade, as the anticipation grows, families gather with excited children waiting to see Santa. A tradition for over 3 generations Santa comes to downtown Warren with his grand entrance and parade.  There was one year  with talk it might be canceled but the tradition couldn’t be broken! I am honored to be nominated  Grand Marshall of the parade and it  warms my heart to celebrate a gathering of family and friends to welcome Santa to downtown Warren. Thank you!


“I would like to nominate Terry Pearson of Hooktown Holidays,” said the nominator. “He is the president and the heart and soul of this organization. He works tirelessly to help our community.”

That organization is Hooktown Holidays.

And, while it’s no surprise that Pearson was both overjoyed and speechless when told of his nomination, he would not stop talking about the organization.

“I’m honored but it’s not about me,” said Pearson. “It’s never been about me. It’s always been about trying to serve the needs of the most vulnerable — that’s what we’re all about. We have approximately 200 supporters of Hooktown Holidays, Inc. who embrace this mission statement that we have which is, ‘to provide food, warm clothing and life necessities to the children of Warren County and families in our community.’

“We’re not an event, we’re a charity, started during the holiday season… so we named it accordingly.”

A story Pearson shared, maybe without intending to — he said someone asked him why he answers his phone, “Hi, this is Terry,” when so many people call asking about Hooktown Holidays. So now he answers his phone, ‘Hello, Hooktown Holidays, this is Terry…”

“It’s every day for me,” he said. “Hooktown Holidays is my life. I want Hooktown Holidays to take the credit.”


“p1″>”It is my pleasure and complete honor to nominate Marcy O’Brien for our 2016 Christmas Parade Grand Marshal,” said her nominator. “Marcy is the face of The Struthers Library Theater and welcomes all with graciousness that makes all who come to the theater completely happy to be there. We always feel at home in the theater.  She has done an excellent job promoting our theater and does it with style and elegance.  The Struthers Library Theater is in a class all its own and second to none — just like Marcy. We are so fortunate and all the better for what Marcy has done with this magnificent theater in the midst of our downtown.

“p1″>”Her writings for the newspaper are captivating. She has shared her life’s journey with all of us, and I always look forward to reading what Marcy has to say. Even though the journey we each take is different, Marcy has often written about events in her life which mirror our own.  She finds a way to connect to us all and has the gift of putting words to paper that always have a meaningful message behind them.

“p1″>”She serves on various committees in town and would represent what is unique and wonderful about Warren as our parade’s Grand Marshal.  She personifies what makes our town special because she herself is special.  To see Marcy smiling as she rides through the parade route would be the face of joy and of genuine Christmas spirit.

“I believe Marcy exemplifies what is special about Warren, and it would be a great honor to see her serve as our 2016 Christmas Parade Grand Marshal.”


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