Every year, a grand marshal is elected by popular write-in vote for Braidwood's annual Summerfest community celebration. This year's chosen man for the job is none other than local community enthusiast, Jim Canup.
Canup has been a resident of Braidwood since 1974, when he came here from California to start a life for himself and Marilyn, now his wife of almost 45 years.
At that time, Canup had just completed four years in Vietnam, as a 9th Marine Infantry Regiment. Canup met his wife in 1967, the last time he was stationed in California.
Since coming to Braidwood, Canup, has raised a strong family with his wife and held countless community titles, including member of the zoning board for the past 12 years. Canup is currently being re-up'd for another term and is presently the longest-serving member of the board.
He was also the commander of the American Legion Post 39 for the last several years. It is here, in this position, that Canup was able to possibly reach his largest community goal, turning the old Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet into a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital site.
Canup drafted a resolution in 2007 that "set-up a community to promote a VA facility at the old Silver Cross Hospital." This request was passed by the Will County American Legion.
Canup personally went all around the greater Will and Grundy counties seeking support for the resolution.
He was swiftly connected with Debbie Halvorson, who was running for Congress in the 11th district at the time. Not long after that, Canup linked up with then U.S. Representative Judy Biggert; Mike Meyer's, Commander of Lockport's American Legion Post; U.S. Senator Dick Durbin; U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger; and then presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign staff to move the proposal forward.
Canup commented that, "their [political support] was very appreciated in making it happen."
The very first community to pass the resolution was Canup's home town of Braidwood. Soon after, in succession, all of the area's residing towns followed suit - Wilmington, Morris, Diamond, Joliet, Lockport, Symerton and more.
The Will and Grundy county boards also quickly passed the resolution to support the project.
Because of the relentless effort and drive of Canup, the Joliet VA Outpatient Clinic, located at the former site of Silver Cross Hospital, opened it's doors to the area's local veterans in March of this year.
"Jim has accomplished so much for this community and is so deserving of this honor of grand marshal," said Angie Hutton, president of the Chamber of Commerce and travel consultant at J & C Travel.
Summerfest is planned and executed by the area's Lions Club and held in the center of town, at the Old Smokey Park on West First Street. Each year there are endless contests, games, food and fun for all at the fest.
Grand marshal Canup is scheduled to ride on a golf cart in the Summerfest parade on Sunday, July 21, at 1 p.m.
The date for this year's 'Hillbilly Haven' themed festival is July 18 through 21. For more information regarding the festival and it's events, please visit www.braidwoodlionsclub.org.