Marabello leads the Grand Marshal for the annual Bug & Bud Festival Parade

The annual Bug & Bud Festival in Milford draws thousands of visitors and residents alike to the downtown area each year in celebration of Arbor Day, the town’s Tree USA designation and its history with the state bug, the ladybug.

Dan Marabello (right) walks in a previous Bug & Bud Festival Parade with Dan and Rhonda Bond and two of their grandchildren. Submitted photo.

Downtown Milford, Inc. volunteers work countless hours behind the scenes to ensure a successful, fun-filled day for all ages.

Daniel Marabello is one such dedicated local who has spent years fine-tuning his volunteer skills for the community. This year, he has been honored with a new designation – grand marshal.

A grand marshal is chosen each year to lead the Bug & Bud Festival Parade that helps kick off the event first thing in the morning. It begins at Memorial Park, next to Bicentennial Park, and finds its way down the Riverwalk to the Milford Public Library Amphitheatre.

The arrival of the parade signifies the start of the festival as leaders judge costumes, read a story about Milford’s involvement in the choosing of the state bug and start a day full of activities and vendors.

“I’m looking forward to the parade,” Grand Marshal Marabello said. “Hopefully we’ll have a good day. It feels nice people think of you like this. I don’t look for it. I like to work in the background and let my deeds do the talking.”

He has volunteered with Downtown Milford, Inc. for about 10-11 years now after moving to Delaware from New Jersey, spending six of those years on the organization’s board. He has also served on several of the committees, such as serving with Farmer’s Market volunteers and those working on fundraising for the group.

He has also served as mayor of Milford. With a background in accounting, Mr. Marabello has also volunteered his time as the treasurer for his home owner’s association, Second Street Players and DMI.

“You have to step up to the plate every once and a while or else nothing gets done,” he said.

“It’s a sense of fulfillment, feeling that you can make a difference. In a little town like this, you really can make a difference and that makes me feel a sense of pride. I really feel like that’s important to have a belief in your city.”

Festivals like the annual Bug & Bud Festival help instill the community pride he feels so deeply as others come out to enjoy what Milford has to offer, he added.

Along with leading the Bug & Bud Festival Parade, Mr. Marabello will also officiate the annual pizza eating contest as he has done in years past.

“It’s a fun thing. The first prize winner gets the $100 gift certificate, plus a stomach ache,” he chuckled while thinking about past winners. “It’s not easy. You’ve got to have a method. One guy soaked it with water. It can’t be tasty, but it was fun.”

For Mr. Marabello, true winners at the festival take home more than cash prizes.

“I feel so excited to be a part of this, all of it. It’s all connected, you know? The biggest thing I get out of all of this is the friendships, really good friendships. That’s nice. It makes me feel rich. You don’t need money to feel rich. When you get my age, you’re just happy to be healthy, have a place to feel secure and enjoy a good meal, and I have a good son. So, I feel very fortunate,” Mr. Marabello said.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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