It’s official: Ray Hatcher will act as Grand Marshal of this year’s Christmas Parade in Floyd. Hatcher said he watches the parade “all the time,” attending every year, and this year he’ll get to marshal it into town. The parade is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.
Many folks in Floyd know Ray from the restaurant that bears his name—a popular destination for a buffet meal and a game of billiards. He inherited the restaurant from his parents, who previously operated it as more of a “grocery store with a snack bar,” Hatcher said. He was born upstairs, and has lived in Floyd for 73 years. What has kept him in Floyd for all this time? “The people that you meet. I’d say it’s a different class of people than you run into a lot of places. They’re more friendly; it feels more like home than anywhere else I’ve been,” Hatcher said.
His only forays out of the county came when he served in the Navy for four years, until 1964, and when he occasionally traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana with his significant other and business partner, Bethel Reinhard. Reinhard is a New Orleans native, and still cooks up Cajun favorites such as gumbo for the restaurant. During his time in the Navy, he said, he was able to explore the West Coast and Norfolk, but he immediately returned home after his stint in the service ended.
Hatcher said during his time at the helm of Ray’s Restaurant, he’s done just about every job there is to do—but his favorite is “dealing with the customers.” Next week, the restaurant will host a meal on Thanksgiving for residents of the county who wouldn’t otherwise have plans. “Mainly we started doing this because there’s a lot of senior citizens who are single, or only two people,” Hatcher said—people who wouldn’t tend to travel long distances or cook a large meal for themselves.
Outside of his work at the restaurant, Hatcher has a large family that includes his daughter, Brenda Vest, his son, Steven Hatcher, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. During a “semi-retirement” with Reinhard, the pair bought a house in New Orleans, and built a bus with a 12-person capacity. They enjoyed traveling to the Big Easy to visit Reinhard’s family, who has since left the area.
Hatcher is also a car enthusiast—a former racer, he owns a ’57 Chevy that he fixed up with his son, and said he used to organize the antique cars that would participate in the Christmas Parade each year. Of his Chevy, Hatcher said “I gave it to my son for his 12th birthday. It’s been a working project ever since.”
Hatcher will also ride in an antique car as he leads this year’s parade, and said he’s excited for the opportunity to participate in front of all his friends. “I’ll just enjoy seeing the look on some of my friends’ faces,” Hatcher said. “They’ll be like, ‘What in the world?’” According to parade organizer Susan Leonard, grand marshals are selected by the Floyd County Merchant’s and Businessmen’s Association, and factors such as volunteerism or owning a longstanding business locally help make the decision.
The association is still seeking entries for the parade. Entries can be antique cars, tractors, ATV’s, vehicles, walking units, floats and more. Those interested in participating can contact Leonard at (540) 250-8486. There is a $10 fee to participate.