Crosby to be festival’s parade marshal | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | April 12, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: April 11, 2018 at 10:53 am
Nina Crosby is beyond thrilled to be named grand marshal for the 2018 Rice Festival Parade.
“I started with the Rice Festival while I was working in the member services department at Coastal Electric. I loved it! I was there 18 years,” she said.
“I called it the biggest family reunion in South Carolina, because you’d see all these people hugging and visiting and having the best time, saying ‘I haven’t seen you since last year.’”
Crosby worked for the festival by hiring the carnival and street vendors, making sure everything was family oriented. In all her 18 years, she only had to turn one vendor away whose booth included things she didn’t feel were family-oriented.
She also started the tradition of putting the food concessions in the city parking lot, so people could get their snacks and sit and enjoy themselves.
She and and her late husband, Harold, walked many miles on Thursday nights before festivals, checking to make sure all was well. “My dear husband was right by my side, and I had his full support, as well as my children’s.” (Her children are John Gooding, Ida Carter, Bert Crosby and Jay Crosby.) She and Harold would also travel to neighboring towns to check out carnivals before hiring them for the Rice Festival.
She, with co-worker Kenny Nichols, designed the company’s lightbulb costumes that employees wore in the Rice Festival parade, walking alongside the Coastal Electric truck.
The family moved to S.C. from Florida when Crosby was 33 — she celebrated her 80th birthday last August. “So this is home,” she said. She began working with Coastal Electric in 1975, staying there for 25 years until her retirement May 1997 — the same year she retired from her Rice Festival jobs.
When she retired, Dr. Harold Rhodes took over her position. “He spent two years walking that street with me, learning the ropes,” she said. “We’d sit and rest and talk on the steps. He calls me his ‘white mama.’”
“I love Coastal Electric and I’m still a member of WIRE, since 1981,” she said. WIRE is CEC’s auxiliary that helps families who lose their homes to fire, working along with Coastal’s Round Up program. They also did public service events, such as visiting the sick children in MUSC at Christmas. “We went to the children’s hospital every Christmas for 21 years, and I dressed as Mrs. Claus,” she said. “The first year, I froze. I was so scared. Then someone grabbed my arm and dragged me to the elevator. But what a blessing. When I laid eyes on those little children — they were such a blessing to me. That was one of my greatest blessings while I was with Coastal Electric.” (WIRE no longer gets to visit the children because of privacy laws, which Crosby said breaks her heart.)
But, even after all these years, she still loves the Rice Festival. “I met a lot of wonderful people during those years and I still hear from some,” she said. In fact, one vendor who did air-spraying at the festival for years made her an umbrella many years ago. “I think I’ll dig that thing out of storage and have it with me in the parade,” she said. “Put it right up over my head.
“I’m so excited. I love the Rice Festival — every minute of it.”