November 24, 2010 at 9:34 a.m.
The title of Taylors Falls Royal Lady of the Village this year is being bestowed upon Mary Murphy, a 30-year resident of Taylors Falls who recently won a seat on the city council.
There are people who divide and there are people who connect and Murphy is definitely a connector.
She brings donations to projects that need money, she brings stories from her community's past to the present to be appreciated, she throws her considerable talents and energy into bridging gaps and completing the circuits that carry the community's energy supply.
The idea of honoring a terrific citizen as Taylors Falls' Royal Lady of the Village began in 1989, and the Royal Lady has been named every year since.
You'll know her by her red velvet and white fur cape royal robe, and she presides over the Taylors Falls Lighting Festival Friday night Parade. Being named Royal Lady of the Village is a really nice pat on the back for whomever gets picked.
The announcement comes at the outset of the Taylors Falls Lighting Festival celebration, which is always the last weekend of November-- but until then the Lady choice is a carefully guarded secret...except for this year. Murphy is a volunteer on the selection committee, in addition to dozens of volunteer activities she's been involved in. Barb Young, Lighting Festival Chair, said it was pretty impossible for this year's selection to be a true "surprise" which is part of why this honor is such fun.
Over drinks at Coffee Talk last week, Murphy explains she doesn't like the word no.
She has always been of the opinion that if there's something worth doing there's a way to get it done, volunteering and fundraising are just tools to an end.
Murphy grew up in the Albert Lea, Minnesota area and moved to Chisago County after getting married in Taylors Falls. "I just set my sights on it," she says of residing in this town. "I loved the feel of it, the natural scenic qualities and the New England style village atmosphere." At one time, Murphy worked at Motorbooks in Osceola, Wisc. and she's been with Hazelden, in Center City, for 27 years as a specialist in (IT) Information Technologies.
Even at work, she throws herself into addressing important needs. An avid biker, she coordinates an annual motorcycle rally as a fundraiser that benefits Hazelden clients in recovery needing financial aid. Maybe you've spotted her event riders on byways throughout both sides of the St. Croix river valley.
Young, Lighting Festival Chair, chimed in, "That's why we chose Mary. She is always there to do what needs to be done. She re-arranges her schedule if she's needed, volunteering is a way of life for her."
As vice chair of the Taylors Falls Parks & Recreation Commission, Murphy also gets to feed her enjoyment of outdoorsy things. She views the world as her own personal garden and when she's not planting an orchard under development in west Wisconsin, she can be counted on to help promote saving a Taylors Falls natural area, or pitching in to create a small park space where local people can be outdoors. (Currently the goal is raising money for installing grills at Cherry Hill Park.)
Murphy's one daughter attends college so blocks of time that Mary used to devote to volunteering at school and for Girl Scouts are now free, for even more community projects and city council tasks. "I'm just getting started," she laughs.
Say hello to Murphy and all the parade participants as they present to you the sparkling Lighting Festival parade Friday night, starting at 6 p.m. on mainstreet in Taylors Falls.
Come early, stay late, just come.
A limited edition holiday tree ornament which helps raise money for the celebration is also on sale and available in shops in town.