The Grand Marshal of the GM Financial Parade of Lights Is...

November 16,2021

See full Fort Worth Magazine article by Samantha Calimbahin here.

The GM Financial Parade of Lights has named its grand marshal who'll be celebrated on a special float this Sunday.

That's Opal Lee, the Fort Worth activist best known for her efforts in advocating for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. This past June, Lee saw her dream become a reality when she stood beside president Joe Biden as he signed Senate Bill S. 475, making Juneteenth a federal holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S. 

Affectionately called the “grandmother of Juneteenth," the 95-year-old Lee hasn't stopped — her next project is bringing a Juneteenth museum to Fort Worth's Historic Southside.

Lee, her family, and Belay Reddick — criminal justice reform advocate and organizer of the Change is Possible Tour — will sit atop the Grand Marshal float during the Parade of Lights, following a 2.2.-mile route around downtown Fort Worth. The float, underwritten by longtime Parade of Lights supporters Karen and Larry Anfin, will incorporate the "Change is Possible Tour" message in its design. 

Additionally, team members from FedEx Express will be at General Worth Square beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday, giving out 1,000 free copies of Lee’s children’s book, Juneteenth: A Children's Story. The book addresses the history of slavery and freedom, Juneteenth, and the importance of commemorating the event.

Lee follows previous Parade of Lights' Grand Marshals including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Billy Bob’s Texas owners Pam and Billy Minick, Emmy Award-winning conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, U.S. Navy Captain Henry “Hank” Kim, acclaimed singer-songwriter Grady Spencer, and more.

This year's parade, whose theme is "Making Spirits Bright," will feature more than 100 professionally designed and illuminated floats, marching bands, The Wheelie-ing Elvi (mini-motorcycle riding Elvis look-a-likes), unicyclists, classic cars, jugglers, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more.

Find more information about the Parade of Lights here.