Despite all the hardships of 2020, the city of Manchester plans to showcase some positives at its annual Homecoming celebration.
A scaled-back version kicks off on Friday, Sept. 11 with its heralded classic car show. The free event will be held from 5-8 p.m. with music, food and drinks available. Social distancing and other precautions will be encouraged or required as outlined by St. Louis County. Vehicle registration is available from 3-5 p.m.; the cost is $15 per car.
Partnering with Big River Running Company, the Manchester Parks 5K Run/Walk jump-starts Saturday’s festivities. At 8 a.m. on Sept. 12, a 1-mile fun run will be held at Paul A. Schroeder Park. For the more athletically inclined, a timed 5K heat begins at 8:30 a.m. A third option, a 1-mile Rover run with your pup, starts at 9:30 a.m. Registration includes a T-shirt and goodies for the pups while supplies last. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the P.L.A.Y. Scholarship, which ensures all children can participate in outdoor programs like camp, sports and swim lessons.
Manchester wants to celebrate residents making lemonade out of lemons with its parade theme of “When Life Gives You Lemons.” For the first time, the parade will close out the Homecoming celebration and light up the streets of Manchester at night. The 1.5-mile parade leaves promptly at 7 p.m. from the lower parking lot of Schroeder Park. As is a time-honored tradition, a grand marshal, citizen of the year and business of the year will be featured in the parade.
Former City Clerk Ruth Baker has been named 2020 Grand Marshal after serving the city of Manchester for over 20 years. Baker remains connected to the city, serving on the Veterans Commission and the Veterans Planning Committee. Baker also serves on the board of directors and as secretary for the Model T Ford Club of Greater St. Louis.
Serving with Baker on the Veterans Commission is West Newsmagazine reporter Bonnie Krueger, who was named as the 2020 Citizen of the Year. A longtime resident of Manchester, Krueger began working for West Newsmagazine as a school reporter in January 2014. She began covering the Manchester city beat in 2015 and has also reported in the cities of Town & Country and Chesterfield.
As a parent volunteer, Krueger took the lead on the Freedom Memorial Wall at Parkway South High. The wall recognizes staff and students who have or currently are serving active duty in the Armed Forces. She received the prestigious “Pillar of Parkway” award in 2018, in part due to her work on the honor wall. The wall also played a part in Krueger being named to the inaugural Veterans Commission, where she will serve three years as secretary.
El Toluco Taqueria & Grocery was named the city’s 2020 Business of the Year. Giving back to the community is important to owners Maggie and Fausto Pizarro, who opened the restaurant in 2016. In the last four years, they have hosted fundraisers for Circle Of Concern, Parkway South Middle PTO, Academy of St. Louis and Girl Scouts April Showers and recently, Hungry Heroes to help feed frontline workers. For three years in a row, El Toluco has been chosen as a Top 100 restaurant and been recognized by Sauce, Feast and The Riverfront Times.
New to this year’s festivities is the Heart of Manchester award. The city is asking the community to nominate residents or volunteer organizations that have gone above and beyond to help the citizens of Manchester during the pandemic. All nominations will be posted online and some will be featured in the city’s social media and printed publications. Visit the city’s website to nominate an “everyday hero.”
For more information, or to register for any of the events, including participating in the parade, visit manchestermo.gov/257/Homecoming-Festival.