Annual parade to honor veterans, military members on Harper May 29

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 25, 2016

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — With military members and vehicles, local bands and even Clydesdales taking to Harper Avenue May 29, the 64th annual St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade will be a sight to see.

“Every year we say it’s the largest, but I think this one really has a good chance of being the largest,” said Parade Committee Chair Cheryl Furdos. “We have something for all interests, in addition to all the veteran entries.”

The Memorial Day Parade switches locations each year and will step off from the intersection of Little Mack and Harper avenues at 1 p.m. May 29 and march north to 11 Mile Road. Just before this year’s parade will be the Sailing Thru the Shores 5K race, which runs at noon from 11 Mile down to just south of 10 Mile and then returns to the finish line at 11 Mile.

This year’s celebrity guest is a former Detroit Red Wing who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame — Ted Lindsay. The retired hockey player is sponsored by Little Caesars and Jersey Mike’s of St. Clair Shores, and Furdos said it’s fitting that he will ride in the parade this year, “considering that St. Clair Shores will have a Federal Hockey League (team) this year.”

“We get a lot of help in these parades, and it’s great to have such great residents help us out with this stuff,” said Parade Committee member Dave Rubello May 2. 

The annual parade is the largest Memorial Day parade in the area, and possibly even the Midwest, Furdos said. 

“It does pay tribute to the veterans, first and foremost. It helps them remember and it helps them teach the children, but at the same time as we pay tribute, we’re also making it a family-friendly event that has something for everyone and it’s a fun day,” said Furdos, who has been chair of the committee for three years and has helped plan the parade for six years.

And although the parade takes a year to organize, it’s worth it, she said. 

“It’s just the satisfaction that you get from being able to coordinate the whole event and the pleasure it gives people and our ability to ‘honor their service,’ which is our theme,” she said.

This year’s parade will include appearances from Detroit Lions mascot Roary, Pistons mascot Hooper, Michigan State University’s Sparty and more, plus performances by all three school districts’ bands and another submission from the Okray family, who took home the “best patriotic” and “mayor’s choice” float in 2015. They will be back in 2016 with another entry, “In Our Hearts,” which is dedicated to St. Clair Shores’ two fallen soldiers — Army Staff Sgt. Donald Munn and Army Specialist Stephen Okray — killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In addition, Furdos said visitors can look for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ 18-foot horse-drawn float pulled by six Clydesdales, the Michigan Accordion Society, bicyclists from the Nautical Ride and Miss June Fest 2015. 

“I can’t think of any ... words except it’s probably the most amazing, indescribable parade on the North American continent,” quipped Rubello. “This one’s worth staying home for” over the holiday weekend.

This year’s grand marshal is Bryan Mazey, of the Lac Ste. Claire Kiwanis. 

As in past years, committee volunteers will be out on parade day collecting donations and selling T-shirts with this year’s winning logo to help support the parade, which costs about $30,000 to put on each year and is about 98 percent funded by donations. Donors can also send a check to City Hall to help out.

Following the parade, an afterglow party will be held at the VFW Bruce Post 1146, 28404 Jefferson Ave., with performances by the Fifth Michigan Regiment Band and the Great Lakes Drum Corps — both of which will be in the parade — and beverages available for purchase. 

Furdos told City Council May 16 that the parade wouldn’t be possible without help from City Hall.

“Every department in the city has helped us and we really appreciate that, and all of the citizens that have attended our fundraisers and donated to help put this event on, thank you,” she said. 

Mayor Kip Walby said it’s the volunteers who work so hard to put on the event who ought to be thanked, however.

“If it wasn’t for that committee that put the heart and soul into it, we wouldn’t have that great event,” he said. 

Find out more about the parade, including where to find restroom facilities open to the public and more information for spectators, at www.scsmdp.com.

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