Tumwater's Fourth of July Parade marshal knows what it takes to be a champ

Contributing writerJuly 4, 2014 

A 12th Man take on holiday Five months after the Seattle Seahawks’ first Super Bowl victory, the state’s football fans still are celebrating.

Certainly, the city of Tumwater still is celebrating.

The grand marshal of the city’s 27th annual Fourth of July Parade will be former Seahawks Sea Gal Stephanie Hemphill of Lacey. She accompanied the team all the way to its biggest win.

Hemphill will lead the parade at 11 a.m. Friday (July 4), and the celebrations will continue at the Artesian Family Festival at 6 p.m. and the big fireworks show at 10:15 p.m.

The theme of the parade is “We Are the Champions,” and the fans’ 12th Man spirit is likely to play prominently. But the city is aiming for a broad interpretation of the idea, said Chuck Denney, Tumwater’s parks and recreation director.

“You can be a champion a lot of ways, whether through sports or through business or something in the community or something at school,” he said.

Yet it is unusual to be part of a triumph on such a grand scale.

“I can’t believe that I was there,” Hemphill said of the Super Bowl. “I’ve been a Seahawks fan my entire life. There are pictures of me and my dad in Seahawks gear watching games when I was 3 years old.”

She left the Sea Gals team in May after becoming executive director of the Lacey Chamber of Commerce in January. “For about five months, I was doing both, and it was definitely a tough, tough schedule,” she said.

That means she won’t be wearing the glamorous costume in the parade. “I won’t be in Sea Gal attire,” she said, “but I’ll be in Seahawks attire — my fan attire.”

As for the rest of the festivities — especially the Artesian Festival fireworks — Denney is as proud of them as Hemphill is of the Seahawks.

“We are easily the biggest event that happens in Tumwater all year long,” Denney said. “This will be our biggest and best show ever. We have a huge grand finale.”

If being part of a Super Bowl-winning team was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Hemphill, being grand marshal of a parade won’t be.

Hemphill had that honor at the Lacey Spring Fun Fair Grand Parade in May and said she was surprised to be chosen again.

“I was shocked,” Hemphill said. “I’d never been a grand marshal before, and now it’s twice in one year.”

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