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Lyle Forde named grand marshal of Arlington's Fourth of July Grand Parade
If Lyle Forde was hoping that his retirement from teaching at Arlington High School would free up his schedule, he wasn’t counting on having such a busy summer.
After 35 years of leading the choral program at AHS, Forde not only was honored with a retirement concert at the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center on June 18, but he’ll also be serving as the grand marshal for this year’s Frontier Days Fourth of July Grand Parade.
Just as Forde wasn’t quite expecting that not only fellow faculty members, but also past and present students, and even Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson would turn out for his retirement concert to commemorate his legacy, so too was he surprised by his own selection as this year’s grand marshal.
“It’s flattering that I was asked, and I’m happy to do it, but I’ve never thought of myself as a pillar of the Arlington community,” Forde said. “I see this role as more fitting of someone like the mayor. Still, I appreciate that so many people in the community appreciate what I’ve been doing for the past 35 years.”
When Forde started teaching at AHS in 1976, he not only added choirs, a guitar class, and a piano and keyboard class during his first few years at the school, but he also changed the focus of the “Swing Choir” into the renamed “Jazzmine” vocal jazz-based choir. He’s repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the community for its support of the school’s choirs, including their participation in the biannual community choir performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” as well as their consistent attendance of Jazzmine shows and other musical events.
Forde hopes to continue teaching, possibly part-time and at the post-high school level, but he’s also considering seeking employment in boating, since he has his Coast Guard captain’s license and previously fished on the high seas for 12 years.
Looking ahead to the more immediate future, Forde can’t wait to participate in “the whole package” of Arlington’s Frontier Days Fourth of July celebration this year.
“Celebrations like this are one of the really sweet things about small town U.S.A.,” Forde said. “When Jazzmine went to Russia back in the 1990s, and when our football team has made it to state, the community has always thrown us parades. You just don’t see that in bigger towns. We’re a much more tight-knit community. I always felt that it was part of my job to help connect the schools to the community.”
Although he’s no longer part of the Arlington School District, Forde still takes pride in being able to call Arlington his home.
“You see so many special things in a town like this,” Forde said. “Who wouldn’t want to live in Arlington?”
The Grand Parade begins at 5 p.m., on July 4, and runs down Olympic Avenue.