Tuttle is grand marshal of 2010 Christmas Flotilla

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contributing Editor

The grand marshal of this year’s Christmas Flotilla in Washington should feel right at home.
After all, Roger Tuttle has been instrumental in planning previous Christmas Flotillas. A former NBC staff announcer and TV personality, Tuttle has been either master of ceremonies or co-master of ceremonies at past Christmas Flotillas. Tuttle was with NBC for 45 years. He worked with announcers such as Don Pardo and Vic Roby.
Around Washington, Tuttle is known more for his association with the Christmas Flotilla and other community-oriented projects and initiatives. Tuttle also has served as chairman of the Miracle Mile Committee, a group dedicated to cleaning up the stretch of U.S. Highway 17 Business from Washington to Chocowinity and improving the appearance of the areas along that section of highway.
Tuttle will be the first to tell you that the successes of past Christmas Flotillas is the result of a team of hard-working volunteers. He should know, seeing how he’s worked with most of them since he moved to Cypress Landing in 2000 after living for several years near Wilmington.
Tuttle recalled how the first Christmas Flotilla in 2003 came about. Tuttle said Fred Fletcher Jr., who was instrumental in organizing the first year of Washington’s Music in the Streets, approached him about what could be done to help promote Washington.
“Among other things, he said, ‘What can we do in addition to Music in the Streets to promote Washington?’ And I said, ‘You guys don’t realize what a beautiful little city you have here. You’ve got a lovely Main Street.’ … And then Fred said to come up with some ideas on how we can promote Washington. I said, ‘You have a God-given waterfront here. What a beautiful situation. Why don’t you use it?’ And he said, ‘What do you mean?” And I said, ‘How do you use it now? You’ve just got a new boardwalk built there and people can walk up and down it, but what do you do to use the water? What kind of boating do you have?’ And they said, ‘Well, practically none.” And I said, ‘Well, why don’t we start a Christmas boat parade?’” Tuttle said during an interview Tuesday.
When he let it slip that he had covered the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for several years, Fletcher asked him to head the flotilla project, Tuttle said. That’s how he became involved with the flotilla for its first seven years, Tuttle noted.
Asked if he ever believed the flotilla would become as popular as it is, Tuttle said, “Yes, because I had already seen one in Wilmington, when we live down there in Landfall. I worked with that. I saw the possibility of this beautiful waterfront that you have.”
Tuttle said he approached Gary Tomasulo, who was president of the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association at the time, about supporting the flotilla. Tomasulo, who died as the result of a fall on Labor Day 2009, was all for the idea, Tuttle recalled.
“It makes me feel good,” Tuttle said when asked about being named grand marshal, explaining he learned at a meeting of the Pamlico Sail and Power Squadron that he had been selected to serve as grand marshal of the flotilla.
“At that point, Tom Miller comes up, who is squadron commander and one of the biggies in the boat parade, and says, ‘Oh, Roger, I was supposed to tell you a couple of weeks ago we’ve chosen you as grand marshal of the parade,’” Tuttle said. “And I said, ‘For what.’ And he said, “Because your the one who started it seven years ago and we’d like to recognize you as the founder.’ And I said, ‘Can I bring my wife (Pat)?’ He said, “Of course.”
Asked why he believes the flotilla appeals to those who watch it, Tuttle said, “They like to see the boats all lighted up and they want to see what people have done to their boats, It’s something different.”