Manteca entrepreneur and restaurant owner Frank Guinta was more than a grand marshal in Manteca’s Christmas parade Saturday night.
The 70-year-old was revered as an icon to what is good in the world for the many individuals who rushed up to his car leading the twilight procession down Yosemite Avenue thanking him for what he had done for them in past years.
Guinta has long operated the Chez Shari Restaurant at the Manteca Golf Course as well as having some seven service stations in business at the same time including the once famous Monkeys facility at Airport Way and Yosemite Avenue.
He rode, waving at the crowd, in a Chrysler 200 driven by his brother David Macedo who he discovered some 11 years ago through a newspaper article. In the back seat he had his daughter Audra Coburn and grandchildren Gabriella and Levi Coburn. There were even the family’s “elves” walking next to the car handing out candy to the children along the route. They included Karen Macedo, Doni Macedo and 9-year-old twins Trinity, and Raymond Archibeque.
Wearing all black — a trademark style for Guinta — and a red Santa hat, Guinta was admittedly overcome by the reaction of the crowd as he passed.
“I have been very blessed. This has been overwhelming,” he said. “God has been better to me than I have deserved.”
One woman asked if he remembered her, he didn’t. She told a story of a young mother who had run out of gas years ago on her way to Fresno with two small children in the back seat of her car. It was after midnight and he had just turned the pumps off at one of his gas stations as she knocked on the office window asking for his help.
“Excuse me Sir,” she remembered pleading.
She said she had run out of gas and didn’t have any money. Guinta looked in the back seat and spied the children sleeping. He pushed her car by hand over to the gas pumps and went into the building and turned the power back on to his station.
After he filled the tank and checked the oil, she remembers he came up to her and whispered a prayer in her ear and said “paid in full” when she again remarked she had no money with her, Guinta slipped cash into her hand. But he did ask for one thing, he wanted her to call him in two hours so he knew she had made it home safely, she remembers.
At the parade she remarked that she has never forgotten his kindness and has since moved to Manteca.
“You are my guardian angel – I will never forget you,” she told Guinta Saturday night.
Brother David Macedo said he has never known Frank to turn anyone down who needed his help such as in the case of a very young man he gave a job as a dishwasher years ago – a position he didn’t have but that he created for the needy person. Now an adult, that same individual was there at the parade to thank his former boss for making a difference in his life.
“People can say what they want, but where there is need Frank Guinta is there – very giving,” Macedo said.
Guinta has been heard to say: “A wise woman told me one time, if someone asks you for something – they need it more than you do.” That wise woman was his mother.
For Frank Guinta, being grand marshal at the Christmas parade was a very humbling experience.
The use of the Chrysler 200 was donated by Cabral Motors.