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Newton Cardinal super fan prepares as grand marshal

David Ratliff, 37, DJ’s at the Ike’s Family Fun day last summer. Ratliff was chosen as the Fourth of July 
parade Grand Marshal.
David Ratliff, 37, DJ’s at the Ike’s Family Fun day last summer. Ratliff was chosen as the Fourth of July parade Grand Marshal.

A Newton Cardinal super fan and an active community member are just a few ways that this year’s Fourth of July parade Grand Marshal has been described.

David Ratliff, 37, is full of hometown pride and that is why he was selected by the Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this month.

After Ratliff found out one of his coworkers from the Newton Clinic nominated him to be grand marshal, he had only one thing to say, “Awesome!”

Emma Morris penned the nomination letter in honor of Ratliff. She wrote, “He has a love for the town of Newton like I have never seen. David may have Down Syndrome but it doesn’t hold him back.”

Ratliff, a Newton native, is the son of Ann and the late Steve Ratliff. David Ratliff is a 2000 Newton High School graduate, and while he was in high school he showed a true passion for Cardinal sports.

“He likes to go to about any kind of ball game — basketball, football, baseball and soccer,” Ann said. “He goes to the games with his friend Steve Knight.”

Ann said David has always been really outgoing and friendly.

“His personality makes a big difference, and he knows everybody,” Ann said. “When he was in high school he was the manager of the basketball team and most people in special education might not do things like that. He has a lot of friends who helped achieve goals, too.”

One of those dear friends is Steve Knight of Newton. Knight and David have been friends for 20 years.

Knight said David is a part of the family, he was Knight’s son’s best man in his wedding and goes on family vacations with them.

“We have met every Tuesday for the most part for the last 20 years,” Knight said. “He is just a loyal buddy who would do anything for you.”

Besides cheering on the cardinals, David can be seen around town doing various activities at the YMCA, playing miniature golf at the Christian Conference Center, cooking and volunteering at the Izaak Walton League.

David has worked at the Newton Clinic for 15 years doing janitorial and office work. He also has been a DJ for more than 15 years, playing music at several local events including the Ike’s Family Fun Day last summer.

“I like all kinds of music,” David said.

David said he is most excited to see a bunch of people at the annual Fourth of July parade.

“I’ll see all my friends wave,” David said.

Ann said getting the chance to see her son be in the parade as a grand marshal and seeing how the community loves him is something that is hard to describe. Ann will also be riding in the parade with David.

“I’m proud of him,” Ann said. “Progress Industries has been really good in their support. Not all communities would have that opportunity.”

David and Ann will ride in the parade at 9:30 a.m. on July 4.

Contact Kayla Langmaid at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or

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