Whitman Principal Alan Goodwin at a school pep rally in 2015. Credit: LIZ LYNCH

For 14 years, Principal Alan Goodwin shepherded thousands of students through Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High School, retiring at the end of the school year from the job he often described as similar to running a small town.

On Wednesday, he’ll take on a new role for a few hours when he serves as the grand marshal of the Wood Acres Citizens Association’s 60th annual Fourth of July parade.

The association for the Bethesda neighborhood of about 400 homes chose to honor Goodwin to thank him for his service to the high school that serves Wood Acres children, according to association President Doug McManus.

“Many of the children in this community have gone to Whitman over the years and then gone off to great colleges and universities across the country.  We are delighted to honor Dr. Goodwin and to say thank you for his leadership these last 14 years,” McManus said in a release. “This is the 60th anniversary of our [Fourth] of July parade and we want this one to be special. We want to give Dr. Goodwin a great send off.”

Goodwin said Tuesday morning that he was honored to be asked to serve as grand marshal, something he has never done before. “It’s wonderful to see the strong community spirit,” he said.  

The association will present Goodwin with a certificate of appreciation from the office of U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen at a community picnic following the parade, which will kick off at 11 a.m. and wind through the neighborhood before ending at Wood Acres Local Park. U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park, state Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Marc Korman are expected to participate in festivities and the Whitman Drum Line and Cheerleaders will march with Goodwin in the parade.

Serving as grand marshal kicks off a month of activity for Goodwin, who left his job June 30. He and his wife, Eleanor, a retired MCPS teacher, are expecting the birth of a grandchild in the coming weeks and their younger son will be married later in the month. In September, the couple plans to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City.

“Retirement is feeling fine so far,” Goodwin said.