By Pat Hill
After Ted Turner accepted a Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce invitation to preside as grand marshal in this year’s July 2 Roundup Parade, chamber officials couldn’t have been more pleased.
“We’re thrilled,” Lou Ann Nelson, the chamber office manager, told the Pioneer. “Mr. Turner will be our first celebrity grand marshal… we’ve had local grand marshals previously.”
Asked about the decision to invite Turner to preside as grand marshal, Nelson spoke of him as “a celebrity with a home in Montana,” “He’s invested here. He loves Montana…he is truly a cowboy, one who has already been attending and enjoying the parade over the years.”
Special seating arrangements were made for Turner’s family and friends front and center at the parade; Nelson said seating was reserved in front of the Livingston Depot, where the parade takes a turn from South 2nd Street onto Park before turning back down Main.
“After the parade Mr. Turner and his family plan to head on down to the rodeo,” Nelson said. She told the Pioneer that she got a phone call from Turner’s horse trainer on June 18 “to see if he could bring a few horses over and see how they’d handle traffic.”
“[Working with] all of Mr. Turner’s staff has been wonderful,” she said. “And I was very impressed with [his] horse trainer taking it very seriously…making sure horses more accustomed to the mountains [would be at ease] in the city.” Nelson said she didn’t know the horse trainer would have company; one of her parade volunteers, Jeana Morrison, noticed Turner on horseback making his way down a Livingston street in a trial run long before the parade. “I didn’t know Mr. Turner would be with them,” Nelson said.
Although the CNN founder is a local of sorts, he is also a worldwide celebrity, and his philanthropic ventures include the Turner Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Captain Planet Foundation, and the Turner Endangered Species Fund. Turner owns the sprawling Flying D Ranch southwest of Bozeman. He opened a national chain of restaurants dubbed Ted’s Montana Grill (more than 55 restaurants in 19 states) in 2002. Turner also scheduled a July 1 dinner in Bozeman where he will host a private dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill, located in the Baxter Hotel, celebrating the first anniversary of its opening.