Committee raises funds for return of Memorial Day Parade

Organizers also seek pictures of service members for Wall of Heroes

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published March 16, 2023

 At a memorial service following the last Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade — held May 25, 2019, the weekend before Memorial Day — Norm Maudlin, senior vice commander of VFW District V,  escorted Gold Star mother Jean Linville in the laying of the wreaths.

At a memorial service following the last Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade — held May 25, 2019, the weekend before Memorial Day — Norm Maudlin, senior vice commander of VFW District V, escorted Gold Star mother Jean Linville in the laying of the wreaths.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


MADISON HEIGHTS — Madison Heights will welcome the return of the Memorial Day Parade this year.

The parade is set for May 27, the Saturday before Memorial Day. Last held in 2019, the tradition was put on hold in recent years due to the pandemic, reduced to a scaled-back service on the lawn of City Hall.

While popular, the privately-funded parade is also costly, with overtime for police and other personnel who maintain security and manage the flow of traffic. The citizen-led Parade Committee is already planning fundraisers to cover the bill, including a spaghetti dinner, donation canisters that will be set up at local businesses and the collection of checks. Checks can be sent to Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile Road, made payable to the Madison Heights Parade Committee. As for the spaghetti dinner, it will be held on March 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Madison Heights Active Adult Center, 29448 John R Road, north of 12 Mile.

The cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 5-12, $8 for seniors 50 and older, and free for children under age 5. The spaghetti will be served with garlic bread, salad, drinks and dessert, with carryout also available, and gift raffles. The proceeds will help cover not only the costs of city personnel working the holiday weekend, but also possible expenses for parade participants, such as gas for their vehicles.

“Anything extra goes into our fund set up with the city,” said Martha Kehoe, chairwoman of the Parade Committee. “We don’t really set a specific target. We just try to work within what we have. What we get is what we make do with each year.”

This year’s parade will also follow a new route, although at press time, the committee had not yet revealed it. In the past, it started at the corner of 12 Mile and John R roads and proceeded along John R and West 13 Mile roads, but this year there will be adjustments made.

One returning feature is the Wall of Heroes, a display featuring pictures of residents or their relatives who served in the military. For most of the year, the display is kept at the Heritage Rooms — a museum in the lower level of City Hall. The only time it’s brought outside is during the parade.

“We’re still collecting pictures for the Wall of Heroes,” Kehoe said. “What we do is we get the pictures and copy them, and then we send them back.”

She said that people should include information about the person in the picture, such as their full name, when and where they served, and their position and rank. A copy of the return address should be included so that the original picture can be safely returned.

The mailing address is Martha Kehoe, 1765 Dulong Ave., Madison Heights, MI 48071.

“We have a lot of military people here in Madison Heights,” Kehoe said. “We just enjoy getting together with the public, and we’re truly for the military — it’s a military parade, not a political event. So I’m very excited about it — very excited.”

Sean Fleming, a member of the Madison Heights City Council, is a veteran who served with the Signal Corps in the U.S. Army during Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia and Croatia. He also currently serves as the senior vice commander for VFW Post 1407, which has members in both Madison Heights and Ferndale.

“We have been involved in the parade for many years,” Fleming said. “I think it’s really great the parade is coming back, because it’s a good way to honor our armed service family members. Parades have always been a way to show respect and appreciation, and I think attending this event and the service that follows is a great opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice of our military.”

He noted that groups looking to participate in the parade can email him at his council address,

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said she has walked in the parade since before she was on the council, appearing with the Madison Heights Women’s Club.

“It really is special, seeing the whole community get together to honor our veterans and those we’ve lost,” Grafstein said. “So many of our neighbors are in it.”

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem, said he has attended the parade since he was a young child.

“I really encourage everyone to financially support it, if they can, but either way, definitely mark the day on your calendar and come watch it. It’s been a long time coming to bring this parade back, and oftentimes when you go without something for a while, it’s difficult to get attendance at the levels that it was before the break,” Bliss said. “This being our first year back since the pandemic, I’m hoping people prioritize being a part of this. Really, I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody again.”