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Work begins on Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade

Fundraising efforts continue with spaghetti dinner April 25

April 22, 2013

MADISON HEIGHTS — This year is the fourth year the Save the Parade Committee has privately fundraised on behalf of the Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade. What began as a bold effort, shrouded in doubt, to save a cherished tradition when City Council cut funding for the event in 2009 has now become a springtime ritual.

However, committee members Martha Kehoe and Monte Geralds said they’re not taking anything for granted. The community is what makes the parade and memorial service that follows possible, they said, by donating money and supporting fundraisers like the spaghetti dinner and pub crawl.

The all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner takes place Thursday, April 25, from 5-7 p.m. at the VFW Post, 630 E. 11 Mile, at the corner of Lorenz Street in Madison Heights.  There will be spaghetti, salad, rolls, coffee, pop and desserts.

The cost is $10 for adults ages 13-54, $8 for seniors ages 55 and older, and $6 for children ages 5-12. Children ages 5 and younger get in free.

Money generated at the event will help pay for the costs of the Memorial Day Parade, which honors fallen servicemen, military vets and those on active duty. This year’s parade is slated for Saturday, May 25.

“We shoot for a target of about $10,000,” Geralds said. “We haven’t quite made that in years past, but we’ve always kept our costs down for staging the parade.”

This is achieved partly by holding the parade in advance of Memorial Weekend, which lowers overtime costs for the public safety personnel and DPS staff providing crowd and traffic control.

Additional costs are saved by the fact that the city doesn’t charge the committee for the efforts of city employees during their regular work hours, such as setting up the platform at City Hall the Friday prior.

“Whatever’s done off-hours, we’re charged for that, and it adds up to thousands of dollars, but if we were charged all of the regular hours, too, we would not be able to hold the parade for under $10,000,” Geralds said.

Last year also marked the debut of the Madison Heights Pub Crawl, sponsored by the GFWC Madison Heights Intermediate Women’s Club. Kehoe said the event will be held this year, as well, but details have not yet been finalized.

Direct donations round out the fundraising efforts. Collection cans were dropped off at local businesses April 8. Groups such as the Best Buy Geek Squad and the Madison Heights Lions Club have also made significant donations each year.

Any leftover money rolls over into a fund for next year’s parade.

“This seems to work out well for us, to have enough money to run the parade,” Kehoe said. “It tends to be the same people who really come forward and participate in all of the things we do at the fundraiser. They’re always there for us.”

Madison Heights has its share of military families, so the event doesn’t go unappreciated. The route starts at 12 Mile and John R and works its way down John R to 13 Mile, where it turns and heads past City Hall for a memorial service by the gazebo.

People pack the sides of the streets, watching the numerous marching bands, veterans groups, community service organizations, children’s groups, entertainers and more as they head down the road, paying tribute to the men and women in uniform. 

“It brings everyone together for the purpose of honoring those who have died in service, and also veterans and active members of the military,” Geralds said. “But another thing I think is critical is when kids ask why we have a Memorial Day, someone will explain to them why the sacrifice of someone who protected their country is important.

“That’s a major lesson, right there, in patriotism,” he said. “It’s love of country and appreciation of country.”

The all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner takes place at the VFW Post, 630 E. 11 Mile, at the corner of Lorenz Street, from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 25. The cost is $10 for adults ages 13-54, $8 for seniors ages 55 and older, and $6 for children ages 5-12. Children ages 5 and younger get in free.

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