Pea Soup grand marshals more than worthy
As is often the case, people deserving of recognition for the good work they are doing in their community are often a little reluctant to step into the spotlight, even if it is just for the length of a parade. Meet Somerset's own Sara Measner and Judy Schottler, selected by members of the Pea Soup Days Committee to serve as Grand Marshals for this year's parade starting at 11 a.m. June 10.
To hear Measner and Schottler describe it, committee representative David Brach, was so smooth delivering the news, the rookies were on board before they even knew what they had signed up for.
"He cornered us. He said, 'It's a really easy job,'" recalled schottler.
"We were trying to suggest other people who we thought would make good Grand Marshals beside us. There are so many other people who are deserving," said Measner.
"Initially, I was like, 'Oh that's really nice of you, thanks.' Then I thought, wait a second," said Schottler.
The humble duo claim to have no prior parade experience and appear to be alarmingly unprepared for their moment to shine.
"Are we even in a vehicle? I guess I thought we were walking. I know nothing," said Schottler.
When pressed, Bracht explained their duties.
"He said, 'Just wave, just practice waving,'" said Measner.
"I think once I walked in the parade with the St. Anne's kids," said Schottler
"We should be okay," said Measner.
Both Measner and Schottler asked the reporter to keep this information close to the vest as they have only shared it with immediate family members, until just now.
They both admitted they have not had time to consider wardrobe yet for the occasion given the whirlwind of attention, but were relieved to learn that no crowns or capes would be involved. Even though they both seemed quite confident in their ability to handle the required waving, the mention of autographs did seem to surprise them a touch. They might be in denial, but neither said they are expecting a large contingent of fans along the parade route. They might be in for a surprise.
Both Measner and Schottler are used to working behind the scenes, more comfortable with other folks taking the credit.
"Initially, maybe I would say I was a little embarrassed, but I think humbled would be a better word," said Schottler
"Just surprised, that's it for me. I looked up some of the past grand marshals and it was like 'I'm not worthy to be in that class of people,'" said Measner.
"We're very honored," added Schottler.
Pea Soup Days defines its grand marshals as good citizens and volunteers. Did they get it right this year?
Measner is a native of Somerset and has four children enrolled at St. Anne's School. She gives her parents, Ed and Theresa Schachtner, much of the credit for her success as a person and parent. Ed is the Somerset Town Board Chairperson.
Measner is responsible for managing the faith formation program at St. Anne's Church including the creation of The Rock youth group, a practical way to exercise faith through community service.
"The goal of the group is to bring students together who share faith and to grow in faith and to serve because that's what we are called to do. We have amazing students," said Measner.
Students belonging to The Rock perform community service projects once a month on Service Saturday. They can also participate in the Summer Stretch program which meets five times during the summer and partners high school students with middle schoolers to do a community service project in the morning and a fun activity in the afternoon.
The Rock also invites high school students to participate in a one-week mission trip each summer to build camaraderie and strengthen their faith.
"This year we are going to Benton Harbor, Mich. Last year we went to a reservation. This year will be our 11th trip. We go through Youthworks who runs interdenominational mission trips all summer all over the country. We will work on whatever projects the community needs by partnering with local ministries to help them. The trips are a good way to get away from the everyday distractions of life and a great exercise in growing your faith. The students teach me everyday," said Measner.
Schottler grew up in the Cities and has two children enrolled at St. Anne's School and one at Somerset High School. She and her husband moved their family to Somerset, his hometown, 12 years ago. She married into a celebrity gig. The Schlotter Dairy Milk Duds pony team belongs to her father-in-law.
The St. Anne's annual fundraising gala is Schottler's brainchild. Prior to her involvement, the event was more of a community garage sale, something Schottler thought she could improve upon.
"Initially, we had a silent auction in the gym that was kind of like a garage sale. I talked to a lady in River Falls who has been very successful raising money there and picked her brain," said Schottler.
In its first year, the gala raised $30,000 for the school.
Even though she has handed the gala event off to be managed by others, it continues to grow. In this, its eighth year, the gala raised $140,000. Schottler continues to work behind the scenes at the school snipping box tops and helping with fundraising in various ways.
When asked if they planned to capitalize on their new found celebrity, both women said they briefly considered a small run of buttons with their faces and "My Mom was the Grand Marshal," but came to their senses within seconds and quashed the whole idea.
Measner summed up the approach to life both Grand Marshals are comfortable with.
"When we all use the gifts that God has given us, then the world is a beautiful place. So that's what we try to do, serve in a way that we are comfortable with," said Measner.