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99-year-old to act as night parade grand marshal

By Staff | Mar 7, 2009

Acting as Grand Marshal for the Celebrate Cape Block Party’s night parade is spry 99-year-old Lorena Schmidt, a long-time Cape resident and former Cape elementary school teacher.
Having moved to the Cape from upstate New York in the ’60s with her family, Schmidt has seen the ups and downs of both the Cape and region.
For most it would seem unimaginable that she had had the opportunity to drive down Del Prado when it was nothing more than a two-lane gravel road, or when Edison College was just two buildings surrounded by quiet scrub land.
“One time I was on Del Prado and I was the only one in sight, there was no one ahead of or behind me,” she said. “I’ve seen some changes … everywhere has just exploded.”
Schmidt turns 100 on June 13, a milestone that gave her daughter, Alicia, some initial reservations about Lorena being the grand marshal.
Yet, with the weather report looking clear, and the night air warm, there was no reason for Alicia not to celebrate with her mother, whom she describes as a “very active 99 year old.”
“I’m so thrilled she got this honor,” Alicia said. “It’s quite an honor, though our concern was weather conditions, I want her here for her 100th birthday.”
Lorena is not all that unfamiliar with performing the act of grand marshal for parades.
During her 80th birthday she top lined the Mickey Mouse parade in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, a moment she described as her 15 minutes of fame.
When she received the word she would be serving as grand marshal for this year’s Block Party and Night parade, she wanted to keep things quiet by not letting the secret get out.
“I was thrilled, I couldn’t believe it, but I didn’t want to blow my horn,” she joked.
She recently shared stories of her time as a teacher with students at Christa McAliffe Elementary, which was featured on local television.
She began her teaching career in 1928, a time when the nation was faced with similar economic conditions.
“There’s light at the end,” she said. “(Recovery) is right around the corner, but its a big corner. We have to have faith and keep going.”