During her 21 years of administrative service to the City of Rector, Betty Benson did nearly every job imaginable and worked on countless events. Since retiring this past spring, Benson has stayed active, continuing her involvement as secretary for the Rector Veterans Memorial Board and Operation: DadBags.
"I've been a part of so many wonderful things here in Rector," Benson said. "There's been a lot of work and long hours behind it, but I've enjoyed it so much all these years."
As Grand Marshall, Benson will lead the annual holiday celebration in style, joined by granddaughters Chelsea, Breanna and Madison in a convertible owned by Vicki Romine.
"I'm looking forward to it," Benson said. "The parade is always fun, and I know I'll enjoy seeing everyone. It's extremely nice to be chosen as Grand Marshall. I do appreciate this honor."
While the parade itself is memorable, Benson especially enjoys the fellowship enjoyed during the ceremony at the community center following the parade.
"I always enjoy the part afterward," Benson said. "The children singing and sitting in Santa's lap is adorable and everyone is in good spirits. It's just a wonderful feeling."
Benson left the St. Louis area to come to Rector what she calls "a lifetime ago." She and husband Bill have spent the past 40 years on their farm north of town.
"I have genuinely loved living here and calling Rector my home," Benson said. "I've been fortunate to have a good life here. I can't imagine there's a better community to call home."
Benson's modesty prohibits her from seeking credit for the number of projects in which she's been involved. While she started her work for the city as an administrative assistant, she quickly took on more and more duties. Through the years, she handled numerous tasks in the water department, coordinated efforts with the police department and handled ever-growing responsibilities in the changing face of city government by writing out grant applications, working on budgets, preparing for audits and helping residents and her co-workers with any number of needs. She was also instrumental in working with the Visitors Center, Northeast Arkansas Innovative Training Center, Rector Area Chamber of Commerce and Veterans Memorial Park.
Her efforts have meant so much to so many, she was approached to serve as Grand Marshall this past summer, standing out amongst a number of worthy candidates.
"Betty Benson has meant so much to the City of Rector," mayor David Freeman said. "We appreciate her contributions through the years and want her to know how much she means to everyone involved with the city and to the residents here. I can't think of a more deserving Grand Marshall."
The annual Rector Christmas Parade is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
Businesses and individuals are encouraged to participate in the event, which coincides with the illumination of Christmas lights and decorations throughout the town. Persons who plan to have an entry in the parade may contact Cathy Manning at 595-3501.
The parade will also feature the Army National Guard Color Guard. The Rector Area Chamber of Commerce will present awards of $100 to the winning float design and $25 for the best sponsored Christmas decoration in conjunction with the celebration.
The parade will begin at the corner of Third and Main streets in downtown Rector and conclude at the community center, where a big Christmas reception for the entire community will take place.
Santa Claus will be present at the reception to hear Christmas wishes and free refreshments will be served.
This year's program will feature performances by the Rector High School band and choir, as well as the newly-formed faculty and staff choir. Rector elementary kindergarteners, first graders and second graders will be singing Christmas Carols as a very special addition to the program.