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Parade grand marshal wants to honor teachers

Tom Orr Tom Orr

The North Carolina Apple Festival honors the apple, of course, and the apple honors a teacher.


That’s a connection Tom Orr wants folks to make when they see him riding in the lead car at the grand marshal of the King Apple Parade that closes the festival on Labor Day.

A native of Henderson County, Orr is being recognized for his many years of service to the community. He was a longtime English and theater teacher at Hendersonville High School and served on the Henderson County School Board. He conceived and pushed forward the Henderson County Walk of Fame and wrote and directed plays about local history.

“That’s the one thing I never dreamt of doing, riding at the head of a parade,” he said with a chuckle. “This will be real experience for me but I am honored. When David Nicholson (the festival director) called, I started laughing and I had to quit laughing and I had to apologize.”

“I grew up in Henderson County,” he said. “I’ve gone to many many parades. I’ll be there for this one I hope.”

Orr, 80, recalls the early days of the Apple Festival when it included square dancing on Main Street and a festival queen contest that spanned several days.

He said the death on Saturday of Dr. Amy Pace, a veteran teacher and close friend, reminded him of the service teachers make to the community.

“As a former teacher I appreciate (the tradition of) an apple for the teacher,” he said. “Teachers have been a major force in Henderson County. Our teachers deserve a lot of recognition and praise and I would like to accept the grand marshal role as a way of honoring teachers.”