Annual parade to light up the Clinton River

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published July 22, 2017

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Come nightfall on Aug. 5, the Clinton River in Harrison Township will be lit up as more than 20 decked-out boats take to the water for the annual Harrison Township Parade of Lights.

This year’s parade will take off from host site Markley Marine at around 9:05 p.m. and will travel down the river between North and South River roads, past Bridgeview, toward the Harley Ensign Memorial Boat Launch, and back again to Markley.

Parade of Lights Chairwoman Julie Angst said this community- and business-funded event is always a popular summer attraction; spectators can be seen lining the route to view the uniquely decorated boats.

“It’s grown every year,” Angst said of the nearly two-hour parade. “The most boats involved since I’ve been a part of it has been 25. I would love for this year to be a record-breaking year.”

Participants are asked to decorate their boats in a family-friendly theme expressing patriotism to honor the Pride of Michigan, a former U.S. Navy ship. This year’s grand-prize-winning boat will net a $1,500 cash prize. Four division winners will receive $100 each, and the resident with the most votes for the best-decorated home on the parade route will also receive $100. Residents on the Clinton River who are entering the home deocrating contest must have their name visible on the property. Boats in the parade must be 16 feet or larger.

Boat judges will view the parade from Crew’s Inn. This year’s celebrity judge is state Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township. Past celebrity judges have included Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

And it’s all for a good cause.

In past years, the Detroit Animal Welfare Group and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division have benefited from sponsorships. Last year, D.A.W.G. received $8,500. This year, the nonprofit Noble Odyssey Foundation and its Sea Cadets of Harrison Township Pride of Michigan will gain from the parade.

“Without the sponsors, we couldn’t hold this event,” Angst said.

The Pride of Michigan, a former U.S. Navy ship that operates as a research and training vessel through the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps with the support of Noble Odyssey, leads the Parade of Lights each year.

In light of this, members of the Lac Ste. Claire Kiwanis will hold an open house at Markley Marine, on North River Road, the morning of the parade, inviting potential Sea Cadet recruits. The Kiwanis have helped generate over $25,000 to support the Harrison Township Sea Cadet program. This year, the club is sponsoring up to six new cadets in the program.

Kiwanis President Bryan Mazey said the open house will be held at Markley Marine 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Lunch will be served, and those in attendance will be able to tour the Pride of Michigan. The goal is to provide financial assistance to those who want to enter the Sea Cadets program.

“The Kiwanis’ goal is kids; it’s all about kids,” said Mazey. “The Sea Cadets are about character building, teaching seamanship skills and offering a pathway to a bright future.”

Those planning to participate in the Parade of Lights must attend a July 26 captain’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Markley Marine, 31300 N. River Road in Harrison Township, to register and show proof of valid boat registration.

For more information or to become a sponsor, call Julie Angst at (586) 469-6000.

For more information about the Lac Ste. Claire Kiwanis and the open house, call Bryan Mazey at (586) 255-6616.