Two prominent islanders have been named as grand marshals for this year’s Strawberry Festival.
Bettie Edwards, owner of The Little House, and Susan Hanson, the principal of Vashon High School, were tapped by the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce to share the honor.
According to grand marshal parade sponsor and Chamber board member Linda Bianchi, both Edwards and Hanson are highly deserving of the honor because they have made a difference in the lives of so many children on Vashon.
“By picking Bettie and Susan to be co-grand marshals we are not only honoring their work but also the entire experience of growing up on Vashon,” Bianchi said.
Edwards has been an active community member and a pillar of the business community since the 1970s. For 36 years she has owned and operated The Little House, a unique gift shop with an enticing candy counter that has long been a destination for many island kids. She’s also been integral in initiating and maintaining many longtime local holiday traditions, including Santa’s Cottage, the holiday tree lighting ceremony and the Easter egg hunt each spring. She’s also been a tireless community volunteer, helping out everywhere from the schools to Vashon Community Care.
Hanson has served the Vashon School District for the past 30 years, starting her career at McMurray Middle School and eventually being hired as principal of the high school in 1999. She began the drama program at VHS, and over the years, she has helmed 32 musicals — all while working extra hours to make sure her directorial duties didn’t conflict with her many administrative tasks at the school. She has also been an active member of the Vashon Rotary.
The selection of Edwards and Hanson also marks a time of transition for both women: Edwards has put The Little House up for sale and has said last December was her final holiday season as a Vashon shopkeeper. And Hanson will retire from her position in June, but stay on as a transition principal at the high school until next February.
Despite their many accomplishments, both Hanson and Edwards said they were stunned and honored to be named grand marshals.
Edwards joked that when someone from the Chamber called her and left a cryptic message about something having to do with the Strawberry Festival, she almost didn’t call back.
“I was scared to death they were going to ask me to do the beer garden again,” she said with a laugh.
Instead, she found out that she’ll be sitting in the back seat of the lead car of the festival parade, along with Susan Hanson, and waving to cheering crowds lining the streets.
Hanson, for her part, said the honor means a lot to her.
“It came out of the blue, and I was really surprised,” she said. “And when I found out that Bettie Edwards, and I were going to be doing it together I was doubly honored. This is very definitely one of those honors you can just enjoy.”