In Alexandria, Joe Shumard’s name and the Alexandria George Washington Birthday Parade are almost synonymous. He is considered the lifeblood of this annual event, the largest such event in the Nation. As the Chairman of the George Washington Birthday Celebration since 1994, he has organized a committee to produce, fund, publicize, organize and direct the many annual events of the Celebration.
He is on constant lookout for local community groups to dance, sing and march in the Parade. By doing this, he presents a parade lineup that is custom designed for Alexandria. Furthermore, he does it all with a smile on his face. Shumard is gifted with that rare combination of organizational skills and good-natured personality that enables him to lead and bring along with him a cadre of followers who truly enjoy working with him.
Though Shumard has never been a fireman, he serves as the President of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, making him a leader in a world almost totally foreign to laymen. It was the historical importance of the Association that drew him to it. The Friendship Fire Company has played a significant role in the history of the city. It is a survivor of the costliest fire in Alexandria, a fire in 1855 when six firefighters lost their lives. Today, the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association assists in the preservation of the historic fire engine house on South Alfred Street in Alexandria, Virginia; supports the Alexandria Fire Department; and provides scholarships and other benevolent and philanthropic services to the Alexandria Community. The Association promotes civic involvement, honors the legacy of its 18th-century founders–dedicated citizen firefighters–and values the contributions of our present-day first responders. Thanks to his efforts, Friendship has drawn the contributions of many volunteers and is a key sponsor of the annual Firefighters Memorial Service at the Ivy Hill Cemetery.
Joe Shumard has also worked actively with and for the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, first as a member for more than a decade and then as a part of the staff for several years. His congenial personality helped to make Chamber events and activities a pleasure to attend. By chairing or serving on a number of Chamber committees, he helped to support the work that this organization provides to the City’s business community.
Because of his leadership and active participation with the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee, the Friendship Firehouse and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Shumard has earned the reputation as the “go to” person for recruiting volunteers in Alexandria, not only for these organizations but for events such as First Night Alexandria and Spring for Alexandria. Volunteers appreciate the opportunity to participate in activities that are so well organized, thanks in large part to the efforts of Joe Shumard.
For these many reasons, Shumard was selected as a Living Legend of Alexandria (and for these same reasons, he was tapped to serve on the Living Legends Board of Directors.)
Credit: Max Rotermund
Photo Credit: Steven Halperson