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Griffin, street festival’s first chairman, named 2013 parade grand marshal

Artist Alley at the 2011 Madison Street Festival. (CONTRIBUTED)
Artist Alley at the 2011 Madison Street Festival. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Joyce Griffin, Madison Street Festival’s first chairman in 1976, will serve as grand marshal of the 2013 festival parade.

In that era, “Huntsville was growing and Madison was looked upon as an alternative place to live and raise a family,” Griffin said. “Madison was on the verge of being ‘discovered'” and the festival “was an ideal venue.”

To plan the festival, the City of Madison partnered with Huntsville Museum of Art. As a museum trustee, Griffin “found the challenge interesting.”

The museum published a 20-page booklet highlighting Madison’s architecture. A juried art exhibition’s winning entry was displayed in Madison City Hall (now Main Street Cafe).

“It’s amazing how Madison has grown,” Griffin said. “When landing from the south at the airport, see how many now call it home and the number of businesses.”

Honored to be grand marshal, Griffin’s “first thought was ‘I’m not an astronaut, a politician, an entertainer or a general.’ People are going to say, ‘Who’s that?'”

The first Madison Street Festival commemorated the U.S. bicentennial. Volunteers dressed in period costumes, scavenging family trunks for treasured items from past generations. “American flags were everywhere,” she said.

Griffin also volunteered because of the family business, SEA Wire & Cable, operating in Madison for more than 38 years. “We wanted only the best for our city. (When) we opened in Madison, Intergraph Corporation, Halsey Foodservice and SEA were the three largest companies,” she said.

Her late husband Gary started SEA in 1970. Daughter Dana Town now is in charge.

During a career in public relations and communications, Joyce Griffin worked as writer and editor for national magazines in New York and Washington and served as legislative aide for Madison County’s legislative delegation.

Griffin has volunteered for numerous non-profits, including the humane society and Randolph School. She continues to serve on art museum and Huntsville Symphony Orchestra boards. “I would like to do more, but I have a working farm in Mulberry, Tenn., which requires a good portion of my time,” she said.

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