Hammond announces grand marshalAs John Newton leads the Hammond Heartland Days parade this year, he’ll also be touring past a few of his accomplishments over the years. Newton is the parade marshal for this year’s parade, held on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 12:30 p.m.
By: Laura Kruse, New Richmond News
As John Newton leads the Hammond Heartland Days parade this year, he’ll also be touring past a few of his accomplishments over the years.
Newton is the parade marshal for this year’s parade, held on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
Newton and his wife, Judy, moved to Hammond in 1960, after purchasing the Newton’s Market grocery store. Newton said he was a meat cutter in his hometown of Baldwin when they decided to go into the grocery business.
“Rent was $45 a month. We didn’t know how we were going to make it,” Newton said. That building was on the corner where Associated Bank is now.
The Newtons built a new grocery store in 1976, located where the BP now is. They were one of the first in the area to have a meat cutter and bakery in the store, Newton said.
“We were so lucky to have such good help,” Judy said. Once one family member started working for them, younger siblings would soon follow. Some of the kids they hired are still around the area, the Newtons said.
With the store came a lot of community involvement.
John was a charter member of the Hammond Lions Club in the early 1970s.
With a hectic schedule, something had to go, Newton said.
“I was so involved with the golf course. Something had to go,” John said.
“And we weren’t 20 or 30 anymore,” Judy added.
John was a driving force in the creation of the Hammond Golf Course. In 1967, he and four partners started building it. It was ready for golfers by 1970.
Out of the original 32 members, John said he’s the only one still with a membership at the course.
All that time on the course has helped his game. He got a hole-in-one on hole two three years ago. The two prior years he got holes-in-one at the Spring Valley course.
“That’s kind of a thrill,” John said.
When he’s not golfing at the course, he’s helping with its upkeep and maintenance.
John’s reach in the community stretches across the street from the golf course to the Village Park.
The Hammond Development Corp., which John was a member of, bought the park land and donated it to the village. They also bought the land adjacent to it, but sold it to the county.
“Our original intent was for it to be a park,” he said. “Not a lot of people know about that.”
John is also a member of the American Legion Post 432 in Hammond and Trinity Lutheran Church. He and Judy were part of organizing the establishment of the church.
This is John’s first Hammond Heartland Days parade as grand marshal, but said he’s been in it many times. That doesn’t mean he was prepared for the title.
When a few Hammond Lions members asked to talk to him one day, he assumed it had to do with fireworks. He and his son Jay have been shooting fireworks for 38 years now.
“I was surprised (when they asked),” John said. “That was the furthest thing from my mind.”
Prestigious positions for the Hammond parades seem to run in the Newton family. Daughters Jennifer (Johnson) and Jayne (Murphy) are past royalty.
The Newtons said they like to stick around for Heartland Days. They can even hear the bands from their house, if the wind is blowing in the right direction.
“They have some good bands this year,” Judy said. “Well, the kids say they’re really good bands.”
The Newtons said they like attending the Thursday night events. That includes the Associated Bank community dinner, a performance by the BiFocal Band and live music by Trigger Happy later in the evening.
“They’re local bands. A lot of older people come back to hear them,” Judy said.
Their family, including Jayne and husband David Murphy, Jennifer and husband Louie Johnson and Jay and grandsons are also trying to make their way to Hammond to take in the parade.
The parade will travel down Davis Street, ending near Loparex. Between 100-120 entries are expected.