Wendy Alexander/Madera Tribune File Photo
Debi Bray, Madera Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, will ride in the Old Timers Day Parade as grand marshal.
The Kiwanis Club of Madera, organizer of the Old Timers Day Parade Saturday that is sponsored by the Madera Downtown Association, has chosen Debi Bray as this year’s parade grand marshal. She will ride with her grandchildren, Sawyer, 6, and Briar, 4.
Bray is president and CEO of the Madera Chamber of Commerce. She began her career with the Chamber in 1986 as an administrative assistant and became president and CEO in 1989. That probably makes her the longest-serving female executive of a single Chamber of Commerce in the state. She was also the first woman member of the Kiwanis Club of Madera, joining in 1988.
Usually, a senior member of the community, one who has been retired from an active life of civic participation, is chosen as grand marshal.
“It’s flattering to be so young and be named with this honor.” She noted that although the Downtown Association and Kiwanis Club have collaborated for many years in putting on the parade, it was once a project of the Chamber of Commerce.
During her career, Bray has chaired the Madera County Workforce Investment Board, has been director of the Madera Downtown Association, director of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau, and director of the Madera Linkage Foundation. Her complete resumé touches on virtually every aspect of the community, from education to business and from training future leaders to organizing a chili tasting and cook-off contests.
In recognition of her many achievements and contributions to Madera, she has received awards from the Soroptimist Club, Kiwanis Club, and Rotary Club. She has been a business partner with Furman High School and Madera High School. In 2014, she was named “Woman of the Year” by State Sen. Anthony Cannella.
Asked if she were aware that the Old Timers Day Parade will be the last project of the Kiwanis Club of Madera (which will cease to exist on Sept. 30), she said, “Yes. It saddens me. Kiwanis and its members have given so much time and dedication to Madera. Their absence will leave a huge void in our community and in my heart. I am grateful to all the members, past and present, who have been committed to the mission of Kiwanis and being instrumental in helping others.”
Various food vendors will be selling their products at Memorial Courthouse Park after the parade, and entertainment will be provided, include the judging of the beard-growing contest and a watermelon-eating contest for youngsters.
The Friends of the Madera County Library will hold a used-book sale to raise money for library activities.