Baker, Birt named Holiday parade co-Grand Marshals


GREENVILLE – While not a resident of Darke County, Steve Baker has spent a considerable amount of time here covering news and events the past 40 years.

As for Betty Birt, she's a self-described “transplant” after marrying Greenville native Rick Birt in 1971.

Both Baker and Birt, who have shown dedication to Darke County, will serve as co-Grand Marshal for the Hometown Holiday Horse Parade on Nov. 20. Birt was named Grand Marshal for the 2019 event and Baker the Grand Marshal for the 2020 event, but both parades were canceled.

The 18th annual Hometown Holiday Horse Parade's lighted horse caravan starts at 7 p.m along South Broadway in downtown Greenville.

Baker started his career in broadcasting after a stint in the Navy. In 1970, he returned home and began working in radio at WPTW in Piqua.

His father owned the station. Baker recalled his father saying he had a six-month trial and if it didn't work out, Baker was out. Fifty years later Baker is still broadcasting.

Prior to joining WHIO-TV in 1980, the legendary reporter got a taste of the television side of broadcasting while working as a stringer for Channel 2.

Diana Stebbins, chairperson for the Hometown Holiday Horse Parade, said when the event began organizers were fortunate to have between 1,000 to 2,000 spectators.

After one of Baker's stories on the event that number jumped to as many as 10,000 in attendance.

Now semi-retired, Baker can still be seen in surrounding communities chasing and sharing stories. It's not uncommon for the popular and ever-smiling Baker – whether on assignment or simply dining out or taking a stroll – to hear someone shout, “Hi Steve!” or give a friendly wave.

Baker said it's the people he’s met along the way that have made his job enjoyable and he's always ready to answer questions or chat for a few minutes.

Baker was inducted into the Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011, and has as many honors and accolades as stories he's covered. He served a five-county area as a “one-man band” most of his career.

He lives in Troy with his wife, Marty, for more than 50 years. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

As for Birt, she found her way to Darke County after marrying Rick, who was born and raised in Greenville.

“I ended up in Greenville just like a lot of ‘transplants’ have,” said Betty. “My husband, Rick, told me that he would take me to ‘God's country’ and here I am! And I'm very happy that I am!”

Birt graduated in 1967 from Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst, Illinois, (a northwest suburb of Chicago), before graduating from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, in 1971.

Birt and husband Rick have three adult children – Betsy, Sarah, and Rick – and xx grandchildren.

Birt, who also worked at Brethren Retirement Community, first began volunteering for Main Street Greenville under the leadership of Amber Schmerge and worked closely with both Amber and Deanna York, a former Executive Director of the Darke County Visitors Bureau. Birt collaborated with York to bring GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) to Greenville, which saw more than 2,000 cyclists from around the world ride into Greenville. When the Main Street Greenville Executive Director role was filled by Amber Garrett, Birt's involvement grew as the two had previously worked together at BRC. Birt became a member of the board in 2013 and served as board secretary beginning in 2015.

During her term, First Fridays were instituted and quickly grew into an integral part of Main Street Greenville's events.

“Betty Birt was an easy choice to serve as a Main Street Greenville Board Member,” Garrett said. “Her positive attitude, willingness to volunteer, and her continuous support of downtown Greenville were all beneficial to the organization over the years. Betty has been involved with numerous projects, programs, and events including the free pony rides during the Hometown Holiday Horse Parade.”

Birt has coordinated the Last Chance Mercantile for the Gathering at Garst for the last five years.

She also volunteers monthly with the Soup Kitchen at Grace through St. Mary’s Church. The Birts are both involved with Citizens for Safer Streets, a grassroots group determined to create a clean and safe community, and Rick is a member of the “Friends of the Greenville City Parks” committee.

The 18th Annual Hometown Holiday Horse Parade features dozens of lighted horse drawn carriages, buggies and riders as they welcome in the holiday season. The 2021 event will take place on Saturday, November 20th, with pre-parade entertainment beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the parade starting at 7 p.m.

For more information visit contact chairperson Diana Stebbins at 937-606-4776 or by email at ss396z@yahoo.com.

Main Street Greenville is a non-profit organization committed to stimulating and supporting revitalization efforts, historic preservation and economic growth in Historic Downtown Greenville. To learn more about the organization, visit or call 937-548-4998.

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