Doug Walker got a little teary-eyed Tuesday morning when a small crowd of Rome residents gathered at Coosa Country Club to hear him announced as the Grand Marshal of this year’s Rome Christmas Parade.

“There are more deserving but none more appreciative than I am,” Walker told those in attendance.

The lifelong radio man and journalist grew emotional as he was presented with a plaque recognizing the honor of being named this year’s grand marshal.

He thanked his family, early mentors in his career and said he actually grew up working on parades. His father put on a firemen’s parade every year in Virginia. Walker said he worked on those parades as early as he can remember and when he was old enough to drive, was given the task of driving the grand marshal at the head of the parade.

Now he’ll be the one driven at the head of a parade at which he’s been a spectator and commentator for many years.

“My daddy would be proud,” he said.

City officials, members of law enforcement and even former grand marshals were present at the special gathering to continue the tradition of announcing the upcoming grand marshal.

Parade co-chair Janet Byington said that this year’s parade — which takes place Tuesday night — will feature 75 floats, six bands, schnauzers, and even a camera crew.

Scenes from a movie will be filmed during the Christmas parade. So parade-goers can expect to see filming equipment and cameras getting shots of the Rome Christmas Parade and particularly our Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Byington even revealed that the Atlanta Braves organization would have a special entry in this year’s parade.

But Doug Walker was the star of the show at the Tuesday morning gathering. The Arlington, Virginia, native and Auburn University grad has been honored by United Press International, the Associated Press and the Georgia Press Association where he was nominated three times as first place in Business Writing. He has also received the Georgia Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association Key to Outdoor Living Award and the United States Tennis Association Georgia Media Award.

Walker serves as a member of the board of directors of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth, Chieftains Museum and Heritage Riverways Foundation.

Walker was associate editor of the Rome News-Tribune from 2009 to 2021, offering the newspaper and its readers invaluable access to his wealth of industry knowledge as well as his connections across the community and the region.

“Each year the committee takes nominations from the public of citizens who have gone above and beyond to give back to our community. Doug Walker is certainly one of those,” said Parade Co-Chair Jerry Rucker.

“Doug has been everywhere in our community for years, telling the story of the people here — and now it is our turn to tell his story and honor him for his service and dedication to our community.”

City Commissioner Randy Quick had particularly glowing remarks about his friend.

He spoke about Walker’s passion for the community, for wildlife, nature and for life itself. And he remarked about Walker’s impact on various parts of the community.

“He’s probably the best journalist I’ve ever known,” Quick said. “He’s one of the best representations of the pure heart and soul of this community.”

The Rome Christmas Parade will take place Tuesday, Nov. 30, starting at 6:30 p.m.

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