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Fall City barber loves a parade
Fall City barber and community volunteer Brenda Carignan is the 2009 Fall City Days Grand Marshal.
Carignan has cut hair for more than 20 years in Fall City. She's also active in a number of community organizations. She was a Salvation Army volunteer, Sunday School teacher at the United Methodist Church, is involved in Relay for Life, and was the former parade chairwoman for Fall City Days. For decades, she and friend Laurie Hauglie have done highway cleanup, beautifying a mile-long stretch from the Fall City Ridge to 324th Avenue. They're planning another cleaning session just before the Fall City festival.
Through her church, Carignan is part of refreshment ministries at Echo Glen Children's Center. She joins congregation members from a variety of churches, bringing treats and a faith message to children at Echo Glen.
Carignan is an organized person, who didn't always know how to delegate tasks on a project. She's grown to find that everyone brings their own unique qualities to a community project.
"I've learned to accept help the way it was," even though it wasn't always the way she would have done it. "I learned who to work with — who brings out your qualities."
"I usually take things pretty serious," the business-winded woman said. "I'll have satisfaction when it's over — I want to get it done."
Carignan said she was raised to give back. She volunteers to pay back the community for supporting her business.
When she sees videos of Fall City Days or photos of the community, Carignan notices the beauty of the Valley's mountains, trees and river.
"It's a privilege to live in an area like this," she said. "I appreciate being part of the community."
Carignan is a breast cancer survivor. She was ill for some time, and received huge support from Fall City residents while she battled the disease. Locals helped her financially, and with their phone calls and prayers. People that Carignan didn't even know came forward to help, both young and old.
Haircuts have been Carignan's professional calling since high school.
"I'm a traditional barber," trained to use a straight-edge razor, she said. Most customers are men.
As a barber, she's learned to be confidential. People tell her plenty of information, good or otherwise.
"You hear a lot in the barber chair," Carignan said. "It’s very intimate, sort of like a bartender. People spill their guts."
"I know a lot," she added. "I figure about half of what I know is true. Sometimes, I don’t know which half is true and which isn’t."
Fall City Days
Carignan said there are others in Fall City who deserve grand marshal status more than she.
"I feel very honored," she said. "For everything I've got back, I've given very little.
"Everything I do, I do with something else," she said. "It's not just me doing it, it's the committees I'm on."
Fall City has good schools and dedicated community organizations, Carignan said.
"It's a cool town," she said.
"It's well worth it to be interested in your community," Carignan said. "It's where you live. If you don't tend it, you might not know what's going to happen."
For the Fall City Days committee, the goal has always been to raise funds for the community.
"Over the years, we have given back tens of thousands of dollars," she said. "It's all done with volunteers — no one is paid."
For their time, volunteers get a shirt — and the satisfaction of helping their community. All profit from Fall City Days goes to school and other community organizations.
"Whatever we gave was to benefit the children on the Snoqualmie Valley," she said.
For those considering becoming involved in the group, "they would find it's very satisfying," Carignan said.
The 2009 grand marshal has always been interested in parades.
"In 1962, when I was nine years old, President Kennedy did a motorcade through our town, Pueblo, Colorado," Carignan said. "He was the only president I ever saw. That's a big deal, particulatly when you're nine.
"To this day, I swore that Jackie waved and smiled at me," she said.
The next summer, in 1963, Carignan and her cousin Pee Wee decorated a wagon for their town children's parade.
"We made a pillbox hat out of a Kleenex box for my sister Patty," she said. Her brother Paul was told to wear his little suit from church.
"They were John and Jackie," said Carignan, who pulled the wagon with Pee Wee on their bikes.
"Seeing Jackie was the coolest thing I ever saw," she said. "Ever since then, I’ve loved parades."
Now, Carignan is the guest of honor, riding in a nice car at the parade's head.
"I know, I'm excited," she said. "I should wear a pillbox hat."