, 2015

Haynie to ride again in Reedville parade

by Renss Greene

REEDVILLE—The grand marshal of Reedville’s Independence Day parade is no stranger to the job.

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Danny Haynie (above) leans on the left field fence at Dream Fields. “Baseball and softball have mostly been my life,” he said. He will serve as grand marshal of the Reedville Independence Day celebration and parade on Saturday. The parade will begin at 3 p.m.

Danny Haynie, this year’s honorary grand marshal, has organized the parade every year since it began in 1991. He was also grand marshal the first year.

The Reedville Independence Day celebration will be held Saturday, July 5. The parade will begin at 3 p.m. For activities and times throughout the day, see the Upcoming event calendar on page B2.

“His whole life he has dedicated to the community,” said Linda Hixon, who helps organize the event.

In fact, Haynie also organized the first incarnation of the parade in 1956. That year, as the Chesapeake League baseball teams were dying down after a post-World War II rush, Haynie, a lifetime baseball and softball player, went looking for a way to keep the ball games going.

“I read in California they had a coed league,” Haynie said. “So I got up a coed league for the churches. That went over real, real big.”

He organized a coed league for the local churches, and gathered a team of players from the fishing boats. They invited a team from Tangier Island to come to Reedville to play, and to welcome them, put on a parade. The church fed them, the fire and rescue squads and ladies’ auxiliary turned out, and musicians came to Reedville and played all night.

“I guess that’s the first street dance that we ever had in Reedville,” Haynie said. “I bet 2,000 people came down that night just to see it.”

The parade eventually died down, but when the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum opened in 1991, Haynie was the natural choice to revive the event.

“A fine young lady, Ms. Bea Jett, she worked hard in the church and everything,” Haynie recalled. “She came and asked me if I would do the parade. I said, ‘No, Ms. Bea.’ She actually cried. It broke my heart to see Ms. Bea cry, so I said okay, I’ll help you.”

That first year, Haynie was grand marshal, and the next year, Bea Jett was marshal. And every year after that the parade got bigger, Haynie said.

“This year, I spent about six days on the road all day long, going from place to place, asking people if they’d like to be in the parade,” Haynie said.

A few years ago, he said, someone complained to him that the parades now are not as big as in their heyday.

“I was about 20 or 21 years old back then, and we had oodles of people,” Haynie replied. “Today, I’m 76, they’re all gone.”

Still, he said he expects 3,000-6,000 people to attend this year’s parade.

Since he has chosen every grand marshal since 1991, the other organizers had to conspire to surprise him with the honor. Hixon, an assistant vice president at Union First Market bank and manager of the branch in Burgess, was the decoy grand marshal this year.

“He has had his list of grand marshals for years, and in years to come, too,” Hixon said. “So it was just perfect that he had chosen me to be grand marshal this year, so that we wouldn’t step on anyone’s toes.”

Other than parades, Haynie says his life has revolved around baseball and softball. He remembers organizing little league teams and paying his umpires in crab cakes. He has won over 300 games himself, putting him in the Reedville Hall of Fame, and at one point held a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for most trophies handed out in one day at 112.

“That’s all been wiped out now,” Haynie said. “You get a trophy for everything now.”

He has lived in Reedville all his life, and in that time he’s worked for the fishing operation Haynie Products, the regional jail (not from the inside), Omega Protein, and now he is a greeter at Walmart. When he applied, as usual, he already had a connection.

“I talked to the guy, and I told him I remember I was his grandfather’s foreman,” Haynie said. Now, he sits by the front doors, tipping his hat to all the ladies who come in.

“You don’t believe how many ladies I tip my hat for them, tell me, ‘I haven’t had a man tip his hat to me for years and years and years,’” Haynie said.

Now 76, Haynie looks back on a full life of baseball, volunteering with the fire and rescue squads, and working for the community.

“I’m glad I still have my memory to remember all this,” he said.

Blaine Altaffer, who helped organize the surprise, said the community decided it would no longer wait to honor Haynie. He described Haynie as “the man behind the curtain.”

“Thousands of people come to the parade, and nobody knows who’s planning all this, without ever asking for any thanks,” Altaffer said.

Haynie will also be honored with a key to the city milled at the Omega Protein plant.

“Danny has always been called “Mr. Softball” around here because of his love for softball, and baseball, and umpiring kids’ sports,” said Monty Diehl, general manager of the plant.

“Don’t ask me why I want to do this, I don’t know,” Haynie said. “I just do. If I didn’t do it, nobody else would.”

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