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'She brought light to everybody'

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | November 22, 2022 1:06 AM

The joyful and brilliant light Julia Parmann radiated into the world will be felt by her family, friends and fans who see the Blazen Divaz perform Friday in the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association's Lighting Ceremony Parade.

"I’ve been to almost every parade on Sherman since I was a small child," Ashlee Schilling shared with The Press. "My grandmother, Julia Parmann, was always involved in some way."

Parmann, who founded the Blazen Divaz 13 years ago, died July 30 from a blood clot complication following a knee surgery. She was 66.

Right to the end, Parmann was working on choreography and details of the Lighting Ceremony Parade.

"She passed in the afternoon, but that morning she was on the phone with one of her practice leaders going through every element of this parade," Julia's husband of 44 years John Parmann said Monday. "She had this thing all dialed in, everything for the rest of the year."

The Blazen Divaz is a creative and upbeat dance group where women of all abilities are invited to join in the camaraderie and exercise while performing for the Inland Northwest community and audiences around the country.

"It was her heart, for all the Divaz and for giving back to the community," John said.

Through song, dance and costume, Julia was dedicated to giving people a reason to smile and equally as dedicated to giving her Divaz opportunities to sparkle in the spotlight. She even made special accommodations for Divaz with vision or hearing impairments and those with financial hardships so that everyone who wanted to could participate.

"That’s really what drove her," John said. "She never said 'no' to anybody. It wasn't in her vocabulary."

Julia founded the Blazen Divaz in 2009.

"Every year she organized and choreographed new performances to make each celebration better than the last," Schilling said.

Schilling said her grandma always said it couldn't be done alone; she would never take credit and always praised her Divaz for their work and dedication.

“No matter what she did for everyone, whatever she put together, whatever the parade, she always said it was them who put on the show," Schilling said.

John, a "Diva Dude" who is the group's producer, parade director and communications chair, said special choreography to honor Julia has been incorporated into the Divaz' Christmas parade routine. The Divaz will take their lighted candy cane props and bring them to the center of two rows to form an illuminated heart from the front all the way to the dancers in the back.

"It’s going to be dynamite," he said. "The Divaz have been out there in rain, wind and snow practicing for this. It's a precision performance, highly lighted, because that's what the Blazen Divaz do. That’s what Julia always did — she brought light to everybody."

The Divaz and their support staff will also proudly wear photo buttons with Julia's picture to carry her with them on the parade route.

The Lighting Ceremony Parade starts at 5 p.m. Friday at Eighth Street and Sherman Avenue and travels along Sherman to The Coeur d'Alene Resort for the Countdown to Christmas and Holiday Lighting Ceremony.

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Press File

Blazen Divaz founder and CEO Julia Parmann, right, is seen here with Divaz Kay Mills, right, and Jean Slagle at the 2021 North Idaho State Fair. Parmann unexpectedly died in July, but her Blazen Divaz family will perform in the Lighting Ceremony Parade and dance in her honor Friday.

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Courtesy photo

Ashlee Schilling, 22, of Coeur d'Alene, snaps a pic with her grandma, Julia Parmann, while downtown enjoying Car d'Lane in 2021. Parmann, who founded the Blazen Divaz, died July 30. She will be sorely missed by friends, family and fans during the Lighting Ceremony Parade.