Saturday, March 14, will mark the 46th annual Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade, and this year's grand marshal has a lot of knowledge of what it takes to put on a party for 20,000 people.

Candy Hart, associate broker with Crosslake RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty has been on the committee that throws this big party since 2002. That's 18 years of finding sponsors for the event, 18 years of organizing parade floats, 18 years of organizing other related events and 18 years of working with the rest of the committee to help get Crosslake's parade recognized as the best in the state.

Hart may be a transplant, but it's safe to say she has found her place in the community.

Hart was born and raised in Duluth. Her father was an interior designer, and her mother was vice president of a Duluth bank. Her hobbies in youth carried over to her future.

Her family had horses, and as a result Hart still has a love of horses and dressage. The same is true of boats and lakes. Her upbringing in Duluth primed her for her eventual migration to Crosslake because of her love of the water and boats.

“We were fortunate enough to have a big cabin cruiser on Lake Superior and did many trips to Bayfield (Wisconsin),” Hart said.

They traveled to many places on that boat via Lake Superior, including Hancock, Michigan; the Apostle Islands; and other places on the lake.

Before leaving Duluth in 1982, Hart began work in the U.S. District Court system. She transferred to St. Paul for one of the early litigations of the Dalkon Shield case. She moved to private practice as a paralegal in Edina, then Wayzata.

As with many people, Hart was already well acquainted with the lakes area thanks to weekend visits to a family-owned resort on Big Pelican Lake. Also as with most people, that introduction to the area led her to permanent residence in January 1989.

Hart became certified in real estate and transitioned from law to property sales upon coming to Crosslake.

“I was intrigued with the city of Crosslake in the Brainerd lakes area and the quest to help property owners find their dream homes,” Hart said.

Before RE/MAX, Hart owned Shores and More Real Estate. In 2003, she became a broker with RE/MAX. By then she had already joined the local parade committee. It was a combination of Hart's professional and volunteer experience in the city that earned her a seat at the front of this year's parade.

Hart first learned that she had been selected as this year's grand marshal about a month ago, when Cindy Myogeto, director of the Crosslake Chamber office, gave her the good news.

“It's quite an honor after spending as many years as I did on the committee, and to present the city of Crosslake, it was a dream come true,” Hart said. “I was somewhat shocked to begin with, but after we had our conversation I graciously accepted.”

With the honor, Hart joins the ranks of many other Crosslake professionals honored for their contribution to the city, its people and its events. This was likely the last thing Hart considered when Debby Floerchinger recruited her to the committee in 2002. She not only joined the committee at that point, but served as co-chair with Floerchinger.

“I went to the committee and ended up chairing it with Debby,” Hart said. “I believe 2012 was my last year as chair.”

In her years as committee chair, and later as a committee member, Hart knows about all of the duties necessary to bring the event to life.

“As a chairperson of the committee, the most important thing is the committee itself,” Hart said. “They are assigned certain tasks and they perform immaculately well. We had to go around and find sponsors for the event to put the event on. We had to contact people on floats. Back in the 2002 era, the parade was pretty minute in comparison to what it is today. It was pretty much a full-time job.”

Hart said the entire committee, city council, community and law enforcement work together to make the event the success it is.

“They have my kudos for what they do,” Hart said. “It's a long, drawn out event.”

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.