Gregg to serve as Fourth of July parade marshal

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

One of Indiana's most famous residents ---- and certainly Sandborn's ---- will serve as parade marshal of the Linton Freedom Festival Parade on July 4.

John Gregg, former State Representative and Speaker of the House, served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1986 until last year. Gregg, a Democrat, has also served as Majority Leader and Minority Leader.

He chose not to run again, but to devote his time to his family. Gregg is an attorney with the law firm of Sommer Barnard Ackerson Attorneys PC, which has offices in Indianapolis, Vincennes and Washington, D.C.

After his election in 1986, Gregg won immediate recognition as Outstanding Freshman Legislator in his first year in office. He was selected by his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus as their floor leader in 1990, then ascended to Speaker after Democrats regained control of the House in 1996.

Gregg has spent his entire life in his hometown of Sandborn, a tiny Knox County community of about 450.

Gregg was thrilled to be asked to be parade marshal. He will be accompanied by his wife, Sherry Biddinger, a Knox County Circuit Court judge, and their sons, John Blackwood and Hunter Wallace.

"Campaigning and public service was and is always a family affair," Gregg said. "I owe so much to Sherry, she is really the one who sacrificed and put in so much effort behind the scene. She is so talented, accomplished and smart. The boys are real troopers, they've walked, rode and ridden bicycles (in parades) over the years. They wouldn't miss it, either.

"I really and truly always wanted to be the parade marshal of the Linton parade. Last year, when I left office I figured it would never happen. I was shocked, and I am thrilled."

Gregg said the Linton Fourth of July parade "is the parade of parades. This means so very much to me and I know it will mean a lot to my parents and extended family because of our Greene County connections."

Gregg received a letter in February from Tammy Martin, executive director of the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce, asking him to be parade marshal.

As one of Indiana's most influential political figures, Gregg has appeared in many parades over the years.

"I would guess I've been in at least 250 parades during my lifetime," he said. "I know that sounds like a lot, but in some years I was in 20 parades. All of them fun.

"This parade is most special because since dad was in business in Linton, we always considered it our second home, the big city. I'd go to my aunt Betty Coen Bowman's on the (July) 3rd and stay all night, get up early and set up chairs on her lawn, watch the cars and people trickle into town."

Gregg's parents, Donald R. and June Gregg, live in Sandborn. Don Gregg was a former co-owner of the Park Inn Motel, and owner of D&D Bituminous in Linton.

Gregg has another very special memory of the Freedom Festival Parade.

"Last year, many, many people clapped and hollered they were sad to see me leave office after 16 years. To receive such treatment and from a hometown crowd, well, Sherry and I were very touched and honored.

"This is an honor I'll never forget. Being honored last year in Sandborn meant so much and now this. I truly have always considered Linton my 'other' home. I'm just very humbled."

Martin said the Freedom Festival Task Force (committee) "has always thought to choose someone that has made a significant impact on our state and community, and certainly John fits that bill. John has always been a strong advocate of the Greene County area."

Committee members John Cotter and Ralph Witty agree.

"We are always looking for someone that has helped out this district of Indiana and John has done a lot for this area," said Cotter. "We felt like we should honor him for all he's done for us."

Witty noted, "I feel that he has made an impact on the state, to Knox and Greene counties, and he's been a real proponent of the Linton Freedom Festival over the past years. We wanted to say thank you to him."

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