Sunday, July 14, 2024

Dual Grand Marshals Carl and Sheila Bergren Lead 60th Autumn Leaf Festival

Both are dedicated supporters of the local arts community


LEAVENWORTH - Longtime locals Carl and Sheila Bergren will be seen leading the Autumn Leaf Parade as its Grand Marshals. It’s fitting for the 60th anniversary of the Autumn Leaf Festival that the Bergrens share the role rather than having only one Grand Marshal, which is more customary.

Charlotte Ley, the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival Association (ALFA) parade chair, explained that the organization wanted to honor someone from the arts community who has given back “behind the scenes.” Carl and Sheila Bergren both fit that description, so the ALFA board agreed to recognize them both.

Carl Bergren, 93, was born and raised in Leavenworth, with homesteading family lines extending further back. After graduating from high school, Carl Bergren moved to California for college and enjoyed a long career as a commercial artist and graphic designer. When he and Sheila Bergren moved back to Leavenworth in 1989, ostensibly to retire, they joined several organizations, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Carl Bergren became a dedicated Village Art in the Park (VAIP) artist, selling his framed pen and ink sketches of Leavenworth structures, which are works of elegant precision. He served on the board for years, helping VAIP establish and fund scholarships for graduating high schoolers planning to major in art in college.

When considering Sheila Bergren’s impact, the list is extensive. She helped found Friends of Northwest Hatcheries, and through that became instrumental in the success of the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival for three decades. She has volunteered over the years for Upper Valley Arts, which hosted concerts before newer venues were established, the Free Clinic run by Upper Valley MEND, Senior Meals delivered to homes, and Cascade Medical Foundation (CMF). For the latter, Sheila Bergren’s golf expertise aided CMF as they held their first golf tournament, which is now an annual event that raises thousands of dollars for the hospital.

Carl and Sheila Bergren show their love for Leavenworth through their many volunteer endeavors which enrich the lives of residents and visitors alike. Beyond the people, place is important to them, and they spent years exploring the mountains around town, and Carl Bergren can recount his own hike through the Enchantments, on a lark from Shield Lake, back in 1955, when he encountered no other person but caught several fish.

The Bergrens have participated in the Autumn Leaf Festival parade in prior years, driving a golf cart along with fellow members of the Leavenworth Golf Club. They were surprised and delighted by the call from Ley asking them to be Grand Marshals. They will be at the front, waving from a convertible, energizing the crowd for the long line up of floats, bands, troupes of horses and dancers, and civic groups to come.

The number of entries in the parade this year is 71. “We don’t have to talk people into it,” Ley explained, referring to the Leavenworth’s popularity as a parade destination for high school bands and other groups.

The honorees this year also include Royal Lady April Watson, who will greet the crowds, along with a few past Royal Ladies, from a float that has traveled the parade circuit over the last six months. Siblings Janey and Evan McCauley will MC the parade, in nod to the legacy of their father, Terry McCauley, who MCed the Autumn Leaf Festival parade for years and offered his legal services pro bono to ALFA and other local entities.

The festivities begin on Friday when the Royal Bavarians host a dinner at the Enzian for dignitaries from sister cities as well as the Bergrens, Watson, and the McCauleys.

As to this recognition, Sheila Bergren said, “We’re looking forward to it. It will be an honor to represent the community we love.”

The Grand Parade, commencing at noon downtown on Saturday, stands as the festival's pinnacle event..



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