With a food truck roundup, a bounce house and activities for kids, plus more participants than in the past six decades, the 61st annual St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade will have something for everyone.
One-hundred and eighty entries will parade up Jefferson Avenue from Nine Mile to 11 Mile roads beginning at 1 p.m. May 26, including dozens of award-winning marching bands and entertainment acts, local television celebrities like Rich Luterman from Fox 2 and Ashlee Baracy of WDIV, as well as Mark and Cora Lijek — two of the houseguests rescued with the help of the Canadian Embassy from Iran in 1980.
This year’s parade theme is “A Time to Honor” and the parade will also bring plenty of civic groups and military organizations, veterans and military vehicles to the streets of St. Clair Shores. The 2012 parade brought out a crowd of nearly 85,000 people, and organizers are hoping for even more in 2013.
New this year, said Cheryl Furdos, of the Parade Committee, is the “Eagle’s Nest” behind City Hall near the end of the parade. It will include a Food Truck Rally with Dago Joe’s Italian food, Jacques’ Tacos, Green Zebra, the People’s Pierogi Collective and Treat Dreams. Dago Joe’s will be holding a meatball-eating contest at 12:30 p.m. the day of the parade; those who want to preregister can do so at www.dagojoes. com. Registration is also available on site.
For children, there will be a bounce house opening at 11 a.m. and face painting starting at noon, as well.
“This is something new that we developed so that it would become a family-friendly event,” Furdos said. “Something for all ages, where they can go and be entertained for some time before or after the parade.”
She said the committee realizes that “it’s a long wait from Nine Mile to 11 Mile” and wanted to give viewers something along with entertainment at the grandstand while they wait for entries from the Tuskegee Airmen, Donut Dolly and Grand Marshal Randy Pullin, who said he was honored to be recognized this year.
“This is a distinguished position … and it’s going to be a fleeting moment,” he said. “You start off at Nine Mile Road and in 45 minutes, you’re history. But for those 45 minutes I’m going to be on top of the world.”
Pullin is a life member of VFW Bruce Post 1146, a veteran and past president of the Shorewood Kiwanis.
Furdos said the parade is a city tradition.
“We, as a committee, were formed three years ago, and we took over and have just continued to improve upon what had been done in the past,” she said. “Give the residents a good parade that pays tribute to the fallen soldiers.
“It’s something they look forward to every year and it’s like the kickoff for summer.”
The Lijeks will be at the VFW Bruce Post, 28404 Jefferson Ave., from 4-6 p.m. the night before the parade — May 25 — to sign copies of Mark Lijek’s memoir, “The Houseguests.” The couple will also be at the Bruce Post again after the parade for a celebration that will include a Civil War band, said Parade Committee member David Rubello.
“We have some great stuff,” Rubello said of this year’s parade. “We have entries from every branch of the military and we’re really proud to present this to the city of St. Clair Shores.”
Parade Chairman Bob Montgomery said it’s due to the hard work of the committee members that this year’s offerings are so great.
“It just shows the passion that this Parade Committee has,” he said at a recent City Council meeting. “These people just work their tail off all year.”
The St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade will step off at 1 p.m. on Jefferson Avenue at Nine Mile Road May 26 and will march along Jefferson Avenue up to 11 Mile Road. For more information, visit www.scsmdp.com.
Jefferson Avenue between Marter and Martin roads will be closed to traffic from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 26.