It seems fitting that Bob and Jenny Allford share the stage as grand marshals of the Home for the Holidays Parade.
The parade theme this year is Holiday Movies, which means entertainment. And entertainment means the Allfords to many central Kansans.
Both spent most of their professional careers in music and education at the junior high and senior high levels in Great Bend, and continue to share their talents during their retirements that began in 1994. They started teaching here in 1969.
Sunflower Diversified Services is organizing the holiday parade again this year. It is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, when it will travel on Main Street from 19th to Lakin, which is about a half-mile.
Awards will be given for best entry in the categories of Youth Group, Civic Group or Club, Float That Best Depicts the Theme, Private Entry, Church Group, Holiday Spirit and the Grand Marshals’ Best in Parade.
“We always try to choose grand marshals that connect to our theme,” said Coordinator Sarah Krom of Sunflower. “Holiday Movies made us think of local entertainment and that led us to think of Bob and Jenny Allford.
“They have been pivotal in sharing the arts and influencing generations of Great Bend residents in numerous venues for as long as many of us can remember,” Krom continued. “We hope for a large turnout not only in the number of parade floats but also as an honor for Bob and Jenny.”
When the Allfords were notified, Jenny said “you’re kidding, and then Bob said ‘huh?’ We were so surprised and honored to be chosen.”
Jenny also noted that she and Bob are “grateful that we have Sunflower Diversified Services” not just for the parade but for its many services for infants, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays.
It will probably come as no surprise to the legions of people who know the Allfords that Jenny wants Bob to have the credit for their selection and Bob wants Jenny to have the credit.
“Bob was in many musicals at Barton Community College,” Jenny said, noting her favorite was his role as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. “It was awesome. Bob was instrumental in so many kids’ lives.”
Bob earned his bachelor’s degree at Wayland Baptist University at Plainview, Texas, and his master’s at West Texas State University, which is now West Texas A & M. He was the minister of music and education at Baptist churches from the time he graduated until he started his career teaching USD 428 English courses, including advanced-placement classes.
Bob is a cancer survivor and still shares his rich baritone voice in the Chancel Choir at First United Methodist Church, where Jenny still plays her beloved piano. She also has been the accompanist for Great Bend Community Theatre and other groups, and is a member of a number of professional organizations.
But she would rather chat about the Madrigal Pops Singers at Great Bend High School, which averaged more than 60 performances a year.
The Madrigals first gained national acclaim in 1983 during a performance at the National School Boards Association convention; the opening session was put on hold for the standing ovation. They also performed at Kiwanis International conventions in Toronto, Canada, and in Seattle and St. Louis.
The Allfords, who have been married for 57 years, have two sons, Allan and Evan, and three grandchildren.
For more information or to enter the parade, contact Sarah Krom by calling 620-792-1321.