SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield will host its 60th Annual Labor Day Parade on Monday, Sept. 4 and, for 2017, the eight-member Public Celebrations Committee has selected Calvin Gross as Grand Marshal.

“I feel blessed. This is great and a big surprise,” Gross told TAPinto South Plainfield, adding that he had no idea his wife of 43 years, Joan Robinson Gross, was nominating him for the honor. “I didn't know what she was doing. She kept asking me questions.”

In selecting an honorary grand marshal for the parade each year, the borough’s Public Celebrations Committee accepts nominations, reviews submissions, collaborates, and votes. “The eight-member committee read and discussed every nomination letter,” said committee chair Debbie Boyle. “Calvin was chosen for all his years of services to his community and the youth of South Plainfield.”

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Gross, a Vietnam veteran, moved to the borough from Piscataway in 1976. He served with the South Plainfield Rescue Squad for five years and was also a member of Mercy 6, the Mobile Intensive Care Team. Gross has been involved with the county’s Juvenile Conference Committee, a family court run intervention program, for 17 years, and has served continually on the South Plainfield Recreation Commission for 23 years, presently as its vice president.

“Calvin’s contributions to South Plainfield as a volunteer almost from the time we first moved into town in 1976 and continuing through the present serve as an excellent example of what volunteerism to one’s community means,” wrote Joan in her nomination letter.

In 2015, Gross was the recipient of the borough’s ‘Cappy’ Award, which is bestowed upon individuals who exemplifies spirit and dedication to the borough's young athletes. “His participation is not in name only. It is not usual for him to make a point to take a detour and drive past a creation sight to see if the site is maintained or that planned improvements are on target,” wrote Joan. 

Gross first became involved with the borough-run sports back when his own children were growing up. Looking to be more involved with his daughter Rebecca and son Paul, Gross coached recreation basketball for nine years.

“[Calvin] wouldn’t choose one of the children’s teams over the other; he coached them both,” stated Joan. “He ran practice sessions for both teams on the same evenings; one on one end of the gym, the other practicing at the other end.”

Gross said the Labor Day Parade has also been something he enjoyed every since he moved to South Plainfield 40-plus years ago. “I used to watch, then I marched with the veterans and, over the years, I have been involved as a judge,” he said.  “It’s going to be different this year being in the parade. It will be nice to ride, see and wave to everyone.”

Gross added, “I am also looking forward to getting to pick the float that best represents the theme of this year’s parade.”

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