A new signature event was unveiled this November for the holiday season. The Prescott Chamber of Commerce introduced the Grand Marshal Gala, its newest signature event and planned Prescott tradition, which honors the Grand Marshal of the Prescott Chamber Christmas Parade and all of the Chamber sponsors who support the Chamber’s holiday events.
The Grand Marshal Gala brought even more excitement to this popular parade. The Prescott Chamber of Commerce named Tommy Meredith the 2017 Grand Marshal, and the first Grand Marshal Gala honoree.
Chamber President Sheri Heiney stated that Meredith is well-deserving of this honor. For over a decade, his tireless efforts leading the Friends of Jersey Lilly campaign has raised funds for the annual Courthouse lighting.
“This is as big an honor as I could ever expect,” Meredith said. “I am overwhelmed. I have seen a lot of parades and events where others were honored. I never thought it would be me.”
Meredith has been a lifelong Arizona resident, community-minded Prescott business owner, and self-described “drugstore cowboy.” Meredith credits his wife, Joan, with everything they have together. Since they were married in 1961, he has never slept on the couch in 57 years. They have been partners in all of their business endeavors, and he has never collected a paycheck from anyone else. Meredith’s smile broadens when talking about his family; son, Mark; daughter, Tama; and his three grandchildren.
Meredith grew up in Phoenix, where he attended West High School and was the state high school wrestling champion in 1956. While attending ASU, he was a member of the first ASU wrestling team in 1956-1957 and was also crowned Campus King in 1959. Meredith served six years in the Air National Guard and was activated to Germany during the Berlin crisis. He retired as a Load Master on a C-97 airplane.
Many jobs, businesses, and accomplishments have shaped Meredith in his lifetime, but the most memorable happened in 1943, when at age 9, Meredith was awarded a YMCA sports tournament trophy. That trophy sits on his bedside table to this day and reminds him that he still can do anything he sets his mind to do. Some of his other notable experiences include: home building with his dad in the 1950s and 1960s; horseback riding for 12 hours a day alongside his brother, Mark who roped cattle in Young, AZ; former owner of Jersey Lilly Saloon for 15 years; claimed three of four North American Wild Sheep Grand Slam trophies; participated with Desert Caballeros annual 5-day ride out of Wickenburg; broke a race record driving his Formula V car at Riverside International Raceway Championship with the Sports Car Club of America; was an original founder of the Fiesta Bowl; also an original founder of Arizona Big Horn Sheep Society; and remains an avid antique collector of early American collectibles.
Christmas is Meredith’s favorite holiday. His favorite Christmas memory is when he and his brother received Schwinn Phantom bicycles. They took off riding on those bicycles right away, and Meredith still isn’t sure if they ever came home that day. For 23 years, the family has attended the annual Courthouse lighting. About ten years ago, Meredith approached the Prescott City Council to discuss ideas to increase their funding of the Courthouse lighting. “After all, we are Arizona’s Christmas City,” said Meredith. One councilmember, in particular, challenged his comment and said, “Tommy, do something about it.” So, Meredith walked back to the Jersey Lilly and said, “We’re gonna do this!” Soon, a committee came together, and they were fundraising. Tommy did the auctioneering for the kick-off party, and light bulbs were sold in the bar. Over the years, money just kept coming in to support the lighting thanks to the efforts of the committee and the people of Prescott.
Since selling the Jersey Lilly Saloon this year, Meredith’s plans are to continue working hard to get out of business. Meredith shared, “Joan and I are going to take care of each other and get our personal affairs in order. There are only so many years in a lifetime, so I want to make the best of them. This isn’t possible with business responsibilities. I want time to enjoy life, just in a different way.”
For more information about all Chamber events, please visit Prescott.org or call 928-445-2000.
The mission of the Prescott Chamber of Commerce is to promote its members by enhancing the overall business environment of Prescott.