Tuesday, March 07, 2017 - Updated: 10:28 AM
By Venita Fritz
The 174th Annual Tater Day is just under a month away, with the annual parade set for Monday, April 3 at 11 a.m.
This year’s Grand Marshal for the parade is Judy Jaco or ‘Miz Judy,’ as she is affectionately known by her many friends. She is a lifelong Marshall County resident who proudly calls Tater Day her favorite holiday. Jaco has attended the Tater Day Parade nearly every year since she’s been alive and recalls that not even rain or an injury could keep her away from the festivities and the people of Marshall County she so dearly loves.
Jaco likes to share the story of what she remembers as her favorite Tater Day parade when, as a young woman, she stepped off a curb a little too quickly and injured her ankle. Despite the urging of her husband to leave and go have her swollen ankle checked by a doctor, she insisted they stay until the parade was over. A trip to the emergency room later confirmed her ankle was broken but she didn’t miss the parade and that’s what was important to her.
“I’m so thankful to be honored as the Grand Marshal of the parade. It means so very much to me. It is the highest honor of my life.” said Jaco. “My heart is full, my life is blessed and I have thankfulness coming out of me abundantly.”
That sense of thankfulness and kindheartedness is evident when you talk with Jaco, who says she tries to live her life by the inspiration and words of Mother Teresa, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Jaco joked she has already been practicing her parade wave. “When this is over I will be able to teach Queen Elizabeth a thing or two about waving.”
Jaco was born in 1934 in a small clinic located in the present-day location of Hutchens Restaurant. Her mother, Elsie English, died from tuberculosis when Jaco was only two-years-old. After her mother died, she moved with her father to her grandparents’ home in Briensburg. In 1954, she married Weldon Jaco and the two raised three children Jeff, Valerie and Shane, in Marshall County. Weldon died in 2011. Jaco is a member of Briensburg Baptist Church.
Jaco enjoys spending her time cheering on the youth of Marshall County at sporting events. She can often be seen at basketball, football, baseball and softball games, proudly wearing her blue and orange. She also enjoys dining with friends at local restaurants, enjoying the fellowship of friends and strangers, alike.
Kindness is a character trait Jaco takes to heart. “I can’t compete with those girls who are more beautiful, or younger or smarter, but if there’s a contest for who is the nicest, I will win every time,” she proclaimed.
It would be difficult to find anyone who disagreed.