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DOWNEY - Former mayor Meredith Perkins has been named grand marshal of the Downey Christmas Parade, taking place this Sunday.
A two-time council member, Perkins served as a councilman from 1998-2006 and oversaw renovations at the Rio Hondo Country Club (now known as the Rio Hondo Event Center) and construction of a skate park at Independence Park.
The skate park opened in 2002 and was renamed in Perkins' honor last month.
Perkins, who was a planning commissioner before his election to City Council, also was instrumental in the installation of new sports fields at Columbus High School.
Despite being termed out of office in 2006, Perkins has remained active in the community, serving on the boards for the Downey Junior Athletic Association, the Downey YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America and the Optimist Club of Downey.
Born in Bauxite, Ark., his family moved to Los Angeles in 1945.
He has three children and credits his three granddaughters and two grandsons for keeping him young.
Meanwhile, DUSD superintendent Dr. Wendy Doty will ride in the parade as a community honoree.
Doty recently announced her retirement effective next March.
Doty began her career in education in 1976 as a teacher at East Middle School. She went on to become a teacher specialist, acting program specialist, vice principal at Warren High School, principal at Griffiths High School and director of curriculum and instruction at the school district offices.
After leaving briefly for the El Segundo Unified School District, she returned to Downey in 2003 when she was hired as superintendent.
She was named Teacher of the Year by the Downey Masonic Lodge in 1983 received honorary service awards from the Downey PTA in 1991, 1993, 2000 and 2008.
She has also been named Woman of the Year for her senate district in 2006 and a Woman of Distinction by Soroptimist International of Downey in 2009.
Active in the community, Doty belongs to several organizations, including the Assistance League, Rotary Club of Downey, Downey YMCA, Delta Kappa Gamma - Downey chapter and the Character Counts National Leadership Council.
"In consideration of her participation in so many Downey organizations, we are honored to have Dr. Doty as our community honoree," said Maria Larkin, chairman of the Christmas Parade Committee.
Also riding in the parade will be Sofia Vela, a 5-year-old kindergarten student who won a raffle to ride with Santa Claus.
"For Christmas I want Santa to bring me an iPod with a pink cover and Barbie clothes," Sofia said.
Sofia said she likes spending time with her golden retriever named Digger, who loves to chase squirrels and cats. Her favorite food is grandma's soup.
She is the daughter of Vernenis and Francisco Vela, of Downey. She has a 7-year-old brother named Emilio and a 4-year-old sister named Natalia.
Sponsored by the Downey Chamber of Commerce, the Downey Christmas Parade is now in its 61st year and begins at Lexington and Downey avenues at 1:30 p.m.
The parade heads south on Downey Avenue to 3rd Street, where it turns east to Civic Center Drive.
Several streets will be closed as a result of the parade, including 10th and 11th streets between Brookshire and Birchdale; Lexington between Downey and Brookshire; and Brookshire between Florence and Cherokee. These streets will close at 11:30 a.m. and re-open at about 3:30 p.m.
Fifth Street between Downey and Brookshire will be closed from 12-5 p.m.
The parade route will remain open to traffic until noon.
Published: November 29, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 33