What started out as a normal day at Reede Gray Elementary School turned out to be something far from that for Bette Barnes.
“I was in one of the third grade classes just before lunch,” Barnes said. “As I was getting ready to leave, all of the third graders came into the classroom. I was told I would want to stay and see what would happen next.”
The students were honoring a grandma, and Barnes thought that was nice. She did not know she was the one being honored.
Barnes, who has spent the past two years working with students in the Redwood Area School District, has become affectionately known as Grand-ma Bette by the students, and that role is one she enjoys.
Whether she is helping a kindergarten student learn to tie their shoes or is assisting a third grader in their reading growth, Barnes said she really loves what she does.
That is why she was selected to serve as the Redwood Falls Women of Today community parade grand marshal, and this Friday that means she is going to be riding in style as she sees the annual parade from a different point of view.
While Barnes said she does not attend the parade every year there was a time when she would have taken her granddaughter to it every year.
Barnes, who grew up in Redwood Falls and graduated from Redwood Falls High School, is one of a family with 17 children.
“I was number 10, right in the middle,” Barnes said, adding she has always enjoyed living in Redwood Falls.
While she did leave for a number of years, Barnes has been back in town since 1991.
Barnes said she is not sure what she is going to be doing specifically during the parade, adding she was told to arrive at the public library at 6:30 p.m. She added there have been some pointers about the best parade wave.
Barnes said she really enjoys being around children, adding she raised seven of her own.
“I really feel honored that they chose me,” said Barnes. “Who would have thought that a 79-year-old would get this kind of privilege?”
The parade is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Friday with the route following the same as it has been in the past.
The public is encouraged to attend the parade and to cheer on Barnes as she goes by.
Those who may be interested in registering a unit for the parade can still do so by calling Rachel Johnson at (507) 430-4183 or Holly Johnson at (605) 670-9947.
Donations to help make the parade possible are also welcome.
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