PARRISH -- Folks in Parrish have really taken a shine to a Pennsylvania couple who settled in their midst.
So much so that Linda and Phil Courtright have been selected to serve as grand marshals of the Parrish Heritage Day Parade on Saturday.
"They have been major volunteers with community activities," parade committee member Cindy Chin said.
Parrish Civic Association Vice President Ben Jordan, an uber volunteer himself, says with admiration that the Veranda Springs couple volunteer for everything.
The Courtrights have led the effort in their neighborhood to sponsor 15 dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs, have played a central role in collecting toys for the annual Parrish childrens Christmas party, and have been active in Lions Club projects.
Phil Courtright founded the Ellenton-Parrish Lions Club and served as its first president in 2005. Since last July, the club has collected more than 2,500 pairs of used glasses for distribution to de
A retired teacher, he has also served on the Parrish Civic Association and the Florida Railroad Museum.
"It took us totally by surprise," Linda Courtright, a former labor relations manager, said of the honor. "I was going through some medical issues, and it was a needed uplift. We're honored, humbled and gratified."
The couple, married 45 years, lived in Quakertown, Pa., for 30 years before moving to Parrish in 1998.
"We first saw Veranda Springs when there were maybe 20 homes here. Now there are 350," Linda Courtright said.
"We have really enjoyed the Parrish area. It's a great place to live," she said.
The Courtrights are an adventurous couple. He once flew hot air balloons, and they have traveled extensively. A recent trip across northern Europe took them to Amsterdam, Helsinki, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, and more.
The Courtrights will be there when the Parrish Heritage Parade lines up at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the parade beginning at 10:30 a.m. The parade starts near the Parrish fire station, 12132 U.S. 301, and weaves its way north through the village to the grounds of the Florida Railroad Museum, 12210 83rd St. E.
The parade is an informal, down-home affair with no entry fee. In fact, it's not even necessary to register, although a call to Chin at 941-812-5291, would be appreciated.
"We welcome everyone. In all my years with the parade, we've never turned anyone down," Chin said.
There will be everything from floats to people walking their dogs, and children pulling their wagons, she said.
Essentially, the parade moves north on 121st Avenue to Erie Road, before taking a right on Erie to 122nd Avenue East.
The route then turns left onto 122nd and proceeds to 82nd Street East and U.S. 301. The route crosses 301, ending at Florida Railroad Museum, Chin said.
Additional activities, including the third-annual chili cookoff, are planned on the grounds of the Florida Railroad Museum.
This year 22 teams have signed up for the chili cookoff. Each will be required to cook 10 gallons of chili.
The defending chili champ is the East Manatee Rotary Club, which will return to defend the title.
"Last year we served 21,000 cups of chili," Jordan said.
The Parrish Foundation has distributed $45,000 in grants from the proceeds of the chili cookoff. Among past recipients are the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Manatee Youth Rowing.
Also planned: rides, rock walls, bounce houses, food, vendors and beer.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.