John and Donna Alexander sat in the catbird seat as the 24th annual Dayton Valley Days kicked off with both community involvement and fun in the September sun on display. The catbird seat, in this case, was in a convertible bearing them as the parade's grand marshals. They sat in the back, sharing the honor because, as organizers put it, of “their decades of community involvement and dedication to youths” in the region.“It's just like a spider web,” said John Alexander as he praised community involvement generally and the need for it in difficult economic times. “There are a lot of people whose income got cut off. Money-wise, we're strapped (in Lyon County). But this is a very generous community.”The Alexanders, lifelong health care workers, help alongside others in Healthy Communities, an organization doing everything from delivering cords of wood in winter to helping at-risk youths. The couple also is involved in two food banks, one in Dayton and another in Silver Springs. In Dayton, John estimated 2,000 people per month are helped via the food bank.John also is a Boy Scout leader and in the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for which he was helping prepare a float before heading to the grand marshals' car for the 10 a.m. parade.John was a physician's assistant and did almost 25 years in the Army Medical Corps. Donna was a nurse. After military service ended, John continued medical care involvement with the Lahontan Medical Clinic in Silver Springs for 5 years and 15 years on the clinic's board.The Saturday parade followed a Kiwanis pancake breakfast that opened the morning's activities for the weekend event.The grand marshals' car led the parade through Dayton's Old Town area and was followed by bands, floats, the usual vehicles promoting political candidates in an election year, and other participants.It came right down Pike Street, not far off Highway 50, passing between dozens of booths hawking wares or opportunities.Among them were Desert Tortoise Tie Dyes with T-shirts reminiscent of hippie days; Lavender Patch, featuring Nevada-grown lavender or lavender products; Dayton-based Great Images Photography, and Hyde's Herbs, with Nevada-grown basil and thyme.Other events during the two-day festival include a noodle slurp and watermelon seed-spitting contest, an International Chili Society Red Chili Cook-Off competition, a Gold Creek Show ‘n Shine featuring custom, classic and other types of cars, a Civil War re-enactment, a silent auction, a raffle and plenty of food.In addition, today the pet parade will highlight a variety of critters, replete with human chaperones, to help support the local Boys and Girls Club.