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2022 Grand Marshal: Honoring Miguel Maldonado

May His Community Spirit Live On

There simply aren’t enough ways to honor a man like Miguel Maldonado, who gave his all for community, asked for nothing in return except honesty and kindness, who passed from this plane in February. For that giant of a man who loved and was loved by so many, the Yosemite Chamber and the 49er Festival Committee members were unanimous in choosing Miguel Maldonado to honor posthumously as our 2022 Grand Marshal.

Miguel loved a parade. And a flyover. And a barbecue at the PML Stables. And a Pine Cone Performers Concert, and he was there to photograph or video them all. He founded vital organizations like Yosemite Gateway Partners and served on the boards of countless others, including the Yosemite | Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce. He nurtured new businesses like Share Fitness and new business owners like Debbie Woodbury who purchased the Yosemite Highway Herald (now Yosemite Express) from Miguel. He had a deep respect for women and loved children, “creatures” who he enjoyed for their honesty and zest for life.

According to the Yosemite Gateway Partners’ website, where Miguel was a founding member and still active on the board when he passed:

“At age 14, Miguel was given the opportunity to be an intern in the Patronato de Carnaval (Mardi Gras commission), sponsored by the municipality in his hometown, Mazatlán, Mexico. Mardi Gras festivities brought several thousand people into town. The traditional celebrations took 4-5 days, ending on Ash Wednesday every year.

“He was accepted as an ex-officio member of the Patronato’s ad-hoc social group: Club Jacarandas. The club aims were to create opportunities for low-income and at-risk youth. After 4-years of internship he was appointed as an official Director.”

Miguel was eighteen and his life of community service had already begun.

Miguel Maldonado and his lovely wife Sally Salinas

It seems only fitting to complete that circle by honoring Miguel posthumously as Grand Marshal of the 49er Festival Parade. His wife, Sally Salinas, and members of the family will be there to accept and share the celebration.

Which brings us to the Chicken Dance…

Miguel loved the 49er Festival and was an active member of the organizing committee for many years, even serving as Grand Marshal once before. Last August, when the painful decision was made to cancel the 49er Festival for a second year, Miguel told members of the festival committee that we (and the community) needed time to mourn the loss of the festival for another year before we could move on to enjoy other events. “Until you take time to grieve, there is no room for joy.”

Miguel’s wish for the people he loved and cared for was that they not spend too much time mourning him, but move quickly to joy. That’s when he told us that he wanted everyone to do the Chicken Dance at his memorial service.

This Yosemite Chamber of Commerce cannot let a request like that, made by such a cherished member of our community, go unanswered. Consider this the First Call for you, your family, and friends to get in touch with your inner chickens, dust off your moves, and bring on your Chicken Dance for the 49er Festival Parade. Parade participants and parade goers alike…you’re all invited to do Miguel proud by joining the 49er Festival’s first-ever Chicken Dance Flash Mob.

Are you in? Or are you chicken?


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