John Schroeder has been entertaining Romans for decades, whether at the dining table in his iconic downtown restaurant, Schroeder’s New Deli, or on the dance floor grooving to the sound of one of his several bands over the years.
On Tuesday, the community thanked him and named him to serve as the Grand Marshal for the 2019 Christmas Parade on Dec. 3.
“This is a great adventure for me, being a longtime Roman,” Schroeder said following a breakfast celebration at Coosa Country Club. “I’m just proud to be a part of it.”
Schroeder told a gathering of past grand marshals and community parade volunteers that he vividly remembers the first Christmas parade after he and his brother Charles opened the restaurant more than 30 years ago.
“We got smacked,” Schroeder said, referring to the crowd.
Dinner at Schroeder’s New Deli has become almost as traditional as the parade itself for many Romans.
In his introduction of Schroeder, retired Rome businessman Mills Fitzner said Schroeder is, “the epitome of what Rome is and what Rome should always strive to be.”
Scott Moody nominated Schroeder for the honor and wrote that “John ... believes deeply that all people have goodness within and he never hesitates to do for others. He recognizes the power of positive energy and people with vision working together to create a place where we can all thrive and call home.”
The Christmas in Rome committee also honored three women who have served as judges for the float competition for more than 25 years. Pam Roberts, Barbara Ivey and Carol Greissinger all retired after the parade last year and a trio of new unidentified judges will take over those responsibilities next week.
Faye Hicks was recognized for more than 30 years of service as secretary to the parade committee.
The committee also honored Donna Rogers, whose husband, Doug Rogers, served as Santa Claus in the parade for many years before passing in February.
More than 100 applications were submitted to participate in the parade this year. The theme is Let It Be Christmas Everywhere, which is also a tribute to John Schroeder. One of his bands was called The Beatless, a Beatles tribute band.
The parade will march up Broad Street at 6:30 p.m. from East First Avenue to just past the City Auditorium.