Where no woman has gone before

Jenny Huntsinger has been named this year's Huntington Harbour Boat Parade grand marshal.

It's an honor in more ways than one. The retired nurse is the first woman to be named grand marshal in the parade's 49 years.

"I wasn't sure how I would be received as a woman," said Huntsinger, 62. "And I know in this day and age, you're not supposed to feel this way, but I'm from the generation where there was a glass ceiling."

The fact that the parade hadn't had a woman serve in the capacity before Huntsinger wasn't intentional, said Calvin Free, who served as grand marshal last year and recommended Huntsinger for the post.

In fact, women have always dominated and led the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee, which puts on the parade.

So at the end of the day, the women call the shots, Free said.

"The men are just figureheads," Free said. "We go around like a bunch of big-headed roosters, but the hens are making all the rules. They have the power."

Free recommended Huntsinger to past grand marshals, who then voted for her.

Huntsinger worked her way up, just like all the men who worked their way up to grand marshal in past years. She served as lieutenant and as one of the captains, who police and manage the parade, and has been involved with the parade for 24 years.

Free said Huntsinger will make a great grand marshal and will make this year's parade especially exciting.

"She may be the best ever," he said.

Huntsinger will be honored at Monday's City Council meeting for her years of dedication and for breaking the gender barrier.

Councilman Don Hansen, who would like to see a city government-sponsored boat participate in the parade, said Huntsinger deserves to be honored.

"The boat parade takes a lot of cooperation and volunteer support, and she's done a lot of that work over the years," he said. "I think it's great that we have a new tradition and have a woman as the grand marshal."

This year's parade is scheduled Dec. 10 and 11; the theme is "Island Serenade." Boat owners are invited to participate in the contest and enter their boats to win in one of the 18 categories, Huntsinger said.

The boat parade is the prelude to the Cruise of Lights, a fundraiser from Dec. 15 to 23 that benefits the Philharmonic Society of Orange County's music education programs.

For more information on how to enter this year's parade or on the Cruise of Lights, go to http://www.hbboatparade.org.


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