John Wesely named 2014 grand marshal
Disbelief was the reaction John Wesely felt after he was informed that the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce board had voted him to be this year's grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade.
"Veronica (executive director of the chamber) had called and left a message for me," he explained in a recent interview. "When I returned the call I asked how I could help her.
"She told me that I had been chosen to be the grand marshal. My first thought was that this has got to be a practical joke that my brother was playing on me."
Veronica invited John to the chamber office and showed him the nomination and tally sheets that showed that he had received the most votes of all of those who had been nominated for the honor.
"I went home after work and went out to the garage to work on my projects but I couldn't get started," he added. "I decided that it was a good night to build a fire in my outdoor fire pit. After I had the fire going, I sat there and thought about the last 25 years in Moose Lake. And then I invited the kids over and we talked about the last 25 years and being part of the community. Only then could I start to believe that this was real."
John was born in Owatonna and grew up in the Twin Cities as one of seven children, he explained. The Wesely family moved to live west of Chicago when he was in kindergarten and lived there for a number of years.
"We took a two-week trip traveling around northern Minnesota," he added. "That's when I decided not to go back to Chicago. I wanted to be in a small town."
John realized his dream in 1989 when he moved to Moose Lake.
"Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful to be in a small town," he said. "I think about it every day on my way home."
Others in the family joined John in Moose Lake later. His brother, Steve, moved to Duluth a few years later, where he had an antique shop in Canal Park. After four or five years in Duluth, Steve and his family moved to the Moose Lake area.
"My parents moved here too," he said. "Eight weeks after they moved here my dad died. My mother decided to stay here; she had made friends. I used to have lunch with my mom five days a week. I did that for 13 and a half years. We had a lot of fun; we played a lot of Crazy 8s."
John married Linda and the couple had two children, Maddie, now 16, and Christopher, now 15.
The couple divorced six or seven years ago, said John, and now co-parent the two teens.
"I love raising our kids in a small town," said John. "Hopefully living in a small town is giving them good memories."
In his spare time away from the Lake State Credit Union, where he has been employed for 19 years, John likes to tinker with mini bikes and mini motorcycles. He also helps his brother, Steve, with auctions for Cresent Auctions.
"I help with the big sales," said John. "I love to interact with people. But my biggest interest is my two kids. They are a lot of fun."
Other passions include fishing and volunteering.
Every year the chamber sells raffle tickets for a major prize, valued around $3,000. John helps out by selling tickets.
"I have sat in front of MarketPlace (Foods) with the trailer with the prize displayed," he said. "I love doing that. I get to meet so many people. It's amazing how many people come to town on Saturday morning."
But selling raffle tickets isn't the only time that John helps the chamber.
"I help out with lots of other chamber activities," he said.
Community service has been a part of John's life since he came to Moose Lake. He said he was once involved in the Jaycees, and had served as the secretary, treasurer, vice president and president. The organization is no longer in existence.
He has assisted with the Ducks Unlimited banquet for six or seven years, and he also has been involved with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.
John served on the Mercy Foundation board for six years. One of his favorite activities is the Santa Claus visit, where he helps with bagging candy and assisting during the visit.
"Find me another day where I can make 200 kids happy," he said. "Ask me why I do that for six hours."
John has also taught after-school classes in household money management and assisted the high school business class in setting up a small business and selling items. The proceeds were donated to the school programs and the food shelf.
John is dating a gal named Kim, and she has commented on the 1946 Ford she had seen recently when she had been in town for a visit.
"Little did I know that we will be riding in it on the Fourth of July," he said.
The late Clayton Hartman's 1946 Ford convertible has been and will continue to be the grand marshal car in the Fourth of July parades.
After both of his children declined to ride with him in the parade, John said that Kim will accompany him as he rides in the parade.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "I look forward to that day. Maybe then I will realize that this is for real."