2019 Grand Marshall, Honorary Grand Marshall & Mule Man Award
When Neil Orne found out he had been chosen as Grand Marshall, he said he felt, honored, humbled, and proud to be selected. The 23-year veteran morning news host has been a “fan” of Mule Day and Columbia since coming to Tennessee at the start of his career, from Maine.
Orne, 53 rode in the Grand Marshall wagon with his daughters, 12 year old Carly and 9 year Audrey. He said he remembered riding in the 2003 Mule Day Parade when Channel 2 News Anchors’ Anne Holt, and Bob Muller were Grand Marshalls. I thought it was the nicest crowd I have ever seen. Orne said “Everyone was yelling, “Hi, Look over here. I just could not get enough of it.
I received an E-mail about being the Grand Marshall, and at first thought it was a “joke”. said Orne, I had to review the E-mail several times, and finally realized it “official”, then I got excited.
Through the years, Orne has stayed in Nashville and Middle Tennessee because of his love of the state and region, the nicest people you will find anywhere in the country.
When he returned to Maury County Park after the Parade, he received a warm welcome, and was telling everyone, that he had the time of his life, and so happy in being part of Columbia Mule Day.
The Late Jerry Erwin was honored posthumously as our Honorary Grand Marshall For 2019. Erwin who died in 2017 was a proud member of the Maury County Bridle and Saddle Club for 22 years, with his daughter Brenda, and took part in club shows.
Jerry was an integral part in the Mule Day Sunday morning church services at Maury County Part, which was very important to him each year.
Jerry served as Mule Day Co-Chairman for 20 years. He was in charge of the events at Maury County Park, while Dee Cee Neeley was in charge of events away from the Park, such as the Wagon Train, Parade, etc.
A Maury County native, Erwin grew up on a farm. He owned Erwin Insulation and Pools in Columbia and was active in his church, where he served as a deacon for many years. He was active in local politics serving as County Commissioner for 12 years, was a proud member of the Tennessee National Guard for 35 years, before retiring as a Lt. Colonel.
He is survived by his wife, Donna, their daughters Brenda (Monty Bland) and Gwen (Dodd Church) and grandsons Chase and Chance Bland, and Caleb Church.
The Mule day committee started a new honor for 2019, that being Mule Man Award.
Charles Martin of Maury County, is the first time winner. He is considered a Mule Expert, and is well known though-out the county. He is shown above with two of his mules Kate and Ader on his farm in rural Maury County.
During the olden days he would be selling his mules in downtown Columbia. Some of his most loyal customers were a group of Amish farmers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who knew they could count on Martin to provide quality well broke mules. Another client of Martin’s was a professor from California. He utilized Martin”s knowledge to help build a tour company, taking visitors to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Columbia residents will recognize the life-long dairy farmer from the Mule Trolley Historic Tours. With his mules Kate and Alder, Martin has given thousands of visitors to Maury County a tour of Columbia’s most historic sites on a mule drawn trolley. This first award went to a well deserved MULE MAN.