PO Box 801
Elk Rapids, Michigan 49629
Phone: 231-342-1058
Email: info@elkrapidsharbordays.org

Grand Marshal

2023 Grand Marshal

Sherry Steffen

Sherry Steffen oversaw Elk Rapids Harbor Days with its renowned fireworks display for 15 years. Courtesy photo

By Barb Mosher, Contributing Writer, Elk Rapids News, July 2023

Sherry Steffen says being named Grand Marshal of the 2023 Elk Rapids Harbor Days “feels like a big, huge hug from the community.” That wasn’t her first thought, however.

“At first, I thought, ‘Why me? There must be others who deserve it more,” she said. “I thought about all the wonderful people in our town, people who work hard behind the scenes and aren’t as visible as I’ve been.”

The fact is, Steffen’s been laboring both behind the scenes and out in front for decades, endeavoring to make her hometown known as a welcoming, thriving, and fun place to live, work, and play since her days at Elk Rapids High School when she volunteered with the village’s chamber of commerce.

“I love the location, obviously, the sand and clean water, and I love the people of this community,” said Steffen, who retired in December from 15 years on the Harbor Days board of directors, most of those as its president. “I grew up here and It just kind of grows on you, the small-town atmosphere and the ability even to walk or ride a bike and get where you want to go without having to drive.”

Steffen has also served on the Elk Rapids Board of Education for 32 years, including roles as its secretary, policy chair, regional Intermediate School District representative, and Michigan Association of School Boards representative. She is currently third vice-president of AMVETS Post 114’s Ladies Auxiliary Board and also its Community Service and Scholarship program chair.

Steffen is active in the Elk Rapids Rotary Club as its executive secretary, social chair, and scholarship chair. The South Torch Area Association appreciates her help as its fireworks director, and the North American VASA Festival of Races has benefitted from her volunteer work for the past 13 years.

In the past, Steffen has shared her time and talents on the boards of Elk Rapids Business Women, Elk Rapids Youth Soccer, Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer and its Northern Region Travel Soccer program, and has assisted with the Miss Elk Rapids Scholarship program. Somehow, she has managed to do as much for Elk Rapids as anyone ever has while raising a family and working full time, first in business management, then banking management. She now works part-time for Great Lakes Forge.

“In a small village such as ours, without the multifaceted, dedicated service by selfless individuals who give so much and ask for nothing in return, we simply would not flourish as a community,” said Michele Spillane, Harbor Days board vice-president.

Board member Shelley Appelbaum agrees. “Sherry has made a life of serving others and her community in a multitude of ways,” she said. “There is no question that as we honor, celebrate and extend gratitude to Sherry for her numerous years of service, it seemed beyond fitting for her to serve as this year’s Harbor Days Grand Marshal.”

And indeed, it’s Harbor Days that might just hold the deepest place in Steffen’s heart. “It’s all about our town and the history of our town, celebrating what we have here, our amazing harbor and the community that supports it,” she said. “And I just really like when people are happy and creating memories with family and friends. I have loved being part of making that happen.”

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