Galva parade grand marshal: John Sloan

Doug Boock
John Sloan stands near patriotic bunting on the front porch of his Galva home on Tuesday afternoon. Sloan, active in many ways in Galva for many years, will be grand marshal of Monday’s Freedom Fest parade.

There was a brief time – just two years – that John Sloan wasn’t a Galva resident. He and his wife Megan resided in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula after marrying in 1972.

But John’s parents were aging, and he and Megan wanted to return to Galva to help them as needed. It was a good move.

“It didn’t take long for us to realize that Galva was an ideal place to stay and raise a family,” said John, nearly four decades later. “The rest is history.”

History indeed.

Since returning here in the mid-1970s, Sloan, now 60, has been carving a niche in Galva history. Through his creative talents – including singing, composing and playing music, emceeing events and more – Sloan has helped make Galva a better place.

The Galva Freedom Fest Committee agrees. That’s why they’ve named him Grand Marshal of Sunday’s 2011 Freedom Fest parade, which kicks off at noon.

That news, given to him last week, took him aback a bit.

“First off, it came as a total surprise,” said Sloan, a 1968 Galva High School graduate, on Monday. “There are a lot of good, smart, generous people in this town who deserve this honor. They were the first ones I thought about when I heard the news.”

But Sloan’s selection is fitting. As he’s spread his talents across many boundaries here, some of them have fallen on July 4 events, where he’s regularly announced the parade, emceed the talent show, provided sound system help at the community worship service – just about everything except light the fireworks.  

“Gosh, it’s been awhile, but I don’t remember how many years,” Sloan said when asked the number of years he’s emceed the parade (at which he’ll be featured in a convertible this year).

“I remember somebody saying, ‘Hey, you’ll be the next Chuck Hay.’ But, there will never be another good humored, humble, gracious ‘voice of Galva’ like Chuck.”

His work at July 4 events mirrors the outreach he’s done in other ways these past 35-plus years. Included are coaching youth sports when his sons, Colin and Patrick, were young, directing a Galva history movie for the city’s sesquicentennial in 2004, emceeing coffeehouses, singing and playing music at weddings and funerals, and entertaining at the Galva Senior Citizens Center and lunch in the park.

“It’s really just part of the fun of living in a small town. You get the opportunity to get involved and try to make a difference for your kids and friends and family,” Sloan said. “All of the busy people I’ve been involved with over the years have made it easy – and a joy.”