Longtime Turlock residents Jeani and John Ferrari have received many an accolade during their time in the city, but none have been quite as unique as the most recent honor bestowed upon the couple — serving as Grand Marshals of the Downtown Turlock 4th of July Parade.
“We were very flattered,” Jeani said of the recognition. “We love parades and are always telling people that Turlock has some of the best parades in the nation.”
Since moving to Turlock in 1966, the Ferraris have spread goodwill throughout the community, donating their time to countless committees and money to a variety of charities in town. They were named Citizens of the Year in 2011 by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce for their work with Emanuel Medical Center’s Legacy Circle, the rebuilding of the Carnegie Arts Center, farmland preservation and downtown revitalization.
John and Jeani also played a key part in making the Turlock Gospel Mission a reality, spearheading the Hope Lives Here campaign which raised funds needed to get the shelter opened and operating.
Most recently, the couple has worked to help increase the public’s access to books. Jeani is working with the Stanislaus State Library Renovation Planning Committee to expand and improve the campus’ library, while John is active on the Turlock Public Library Planning Committee, where he is helping to lead the charge for a new library that can better serve the city.
There are so many wonderful people in this community who give so much, and so many people who deserve to be Grand Marshal that could be sitting with us.Jeani Ferrari
While the couple is at the forefront of many projects throughout town, Jeani said none of it could have been possible without the many volunteers and other community members who have been there to help along the way.
“There are so many wonderful people in this community who give so much, and so many people who deserve to be Grand Marshal that could be sitting with us,” she said.
Jeani was a pivotal member of the Turlock Downtown Revitalization Committee, helping turn Main Street into the shopping and dining destination it is today. Much of that revitalization was aimed at making the downtown core a place the city could gather in times of celebration, she said, like the 4th of July parade.
“When we redesigned the downtown, not only did we expand the sidewalks and add shade trees, but we also put in a lot of benches and faced them toward the street for the very reason of a parade,” Jeani said. “Our downtown is something that others strive to be.”
John will turn 75 on July 6, marking Wednesday’s parade as a somewhat early birthday celebration, Jeani said. He is a car enthusiast, making the event followed by a car show all the more exciting.
“He’s a car guy, so you can imagine how fun this is for him,” Jeani said.
The Ferraris will be at the head of the 4th of July parade in a pickup truck, sitting on a bale of hay — perfect, Jeani said, for the couple that has farmed crops like walnuts, peaches and almonds since they arrived in the city over 50 years ago.
“We are very much committed to this community and we’ll work on anything,” Jeani said. “I’m sure there will be other things in the future, and we’ll just continue to work alongside a lot of other people in this amazing community.”