By Jim Williams
The task of entering a float in Cedar Rapids’ St. Patrick’s Day SaPaDaPaSo parade developed into an excellent example of the charitable work done by volunteers and philanthropic organizations and companies in Linn County.
As a result of the East Central Iowa SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) Chapter being named the Best Chapter in the USA, we received a $20,000 grant from Sam’s Club. We decided to use a small amount to make our community more aware of SCORE — which provides free mentoring to area businesses and entrepreneurs who want to start their own business. Our idea was to distribute SCORE pamphlets and candy to the expected 40,000 or more spectators at the parade.
The first challenge was how to design and build the float. We contacted Coe College and were connected to adjunct associate professor Jonathan Allender-Zivi, technical director of Coe’s theater program. He said theater students were willing to design and build a float for us.
Next, Wayne Winn of Home Town Restyling in Hiawatha offered us use of a hay wagon.
We had planned to attach a genuine Irish penny to our pamphlet but discovered that in Ireland they no longer use the penny. The Irish Tourist Board suggested we contact the Bank of Ireland to see if it still had some.
In January, we learned that parade officials don’t allow any paper to be distributed along the route. We then asked John Daming, manager of Sam’s Club, if we could have 5,000 heavy plastic bags on which to put a sticker to extol SCORE’s services. He said yes.
Sara Netolicky, retail market manager at Liberty Bank, and her staff agreed to apply the labels to the bags.
The Coe crew came up with a beautiful design that required a turntable for part of the float and electricity for the lights. Jim Green of the Rockwell Collins Retiree Volunteers Group came to the rescue with fellow member Cliff Koop to build great turntable. Kayla Paulson of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Linn and Johnson counties provided the power supply.
Students from St. Matthew Elementary School and Regis Catholic Middle school volunteered to help our members hand out the bags and candy. Sam’s Club will provide a tent for SCORE’s use in the parade staging area.
Curt Eilers of Belvedere Inc. gave us access to a suitable building where Coe students could build the float.
This project helped us learn about the benevolent people and businesses in this community. As St. Patrick looks down on Sunday’s 1 p.m. parade, he will surely send an Irish blessing to all who helped SCORE.
Jim Williams is a member of East Central Iowa Chapter SCORE. Comments: jamespjwilliams@