The Great Lakes Riding Club kicks off the 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade on Jefferson Avenue.

The Great Lakes Riding Club kicks off the 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade on Jefferson Avenue.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Crowd applauds return of parade, normalcy in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 4, 2021

 Erica Wilson-Brandon, of St. Clair Shores, waves a flag during the event.

Erica Wilson-Brandon, of St. Clair Shores, waves a flag during the event.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Two-year-old Owen Pesano, of St. Clair Shores, watches the 2021 parade.

Two-year-old Owen Pesano, of St. Clair Shores, watches the 2021 parade.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Sitting in a lawn chair along Jefferson Avenue, Anna Robinson said she was “100%” ready for normal life to return.

This was the first year the Harrison Township resident came to watch the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade after being invited by a friend.

“It sort of feels like a return to normalcy,” she said.

For others, however, the annual parade is a tradition.

“I get to see my friends and my family,” said Mary Beth Ortwein, of St. Clair Shores. “It’s one of the things in this community that everyone can be a part of. It’s well organized.”

She said she never doubted the parade would return in 2021.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to come,” she said. “It’s nice to be out. The weather’s beautiful.”

Indeed, there was no rain on the parade for 2021, unlike the last iteration of the parade in 2019.

Parade Committee Chair Cheryl Furdos said she felt the 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade went “exceptionally well.”

“There was a larger audience than we anticipated,” she said. “Everything went very smoothly.”

Furdos said she heard of many people coming out to the parade who had never been before, including visitors from as far away as West Bloomfield.

“It’s got a huge reputation. It’s got its own identity,” she said.

Jim Wieme, of Grosse Pointe Woods, comes out to watch the parade with his aunt every year it is held on Jefferson Avenue. She lives on Jefferson, he said, and it’s a nice opportunity to get out to see everybody. He was especially excited about this year’s special guest.

“I’m a big fan of Butch Patrick,” he said of the actor who played Eddie Munster in TV’s “The Munsters.” “I know the guy who built his car.”

He said he also appreciated the opportunity to pay tribute to those who have given their lives for the country.

“It’s good to give support to the veterans. That’s the biggest reason,” he said.

Larry and Judi Hoskins enjoy watching the parade from their home on Jefferson Avenue.

“All the people getting together and watching the kids, they get so excited, especially this year with everybody being cooped up,” Larry Hoskins said. “It’s great that everybody’s out.”

The crowds lining the street looked a lot like those seen any other year, with only a handful wearing masks and people packed together along the roadside.

Kathy Stanley, of Harrison Township, was sitting outside her daughter’s home to catch the parade.

“I just like the environment,” she said. “It’s a nice family atmosphere. There are never any problems.”

She said she appreciated all the work of the volunteers.

“I think they do a wonderful job coordinating it. I know there’s a lot of work involved,” she said.

Planning the 2021 parade was made more difficult because the committee didn’t receive official permission to hold the parade until the end of April.

“We had things (that) had to stay on the back burner until we got the go-ahead,” Furdos said. “Not knowing how to really prepare in the event that you did have to cancel.

“I’m very grateful to the residents for coming out, for all the spectators, to the entire city for supporting us and all the people, internally, that work for the city who went out of their way to make sure everything went right, and to my fabulous committee.”

She said the hard work was worth it to her and the other Parade Committee members: Vince Carr, Chuck Palermo, Mary Beth Okray, Sal Rubino, Dave Ellis, Kyle Nicholson, Rosalie Lavigne, Sarah Lanyon, Robert Muha, and Dave and Greta Rubello.

“We were thrilled because we love doing it, and it’s our tribute to the fallen and to the veterans,” Furdos said. “We’re elated when it goes well and everyone’s happy and we know we’ve done a good job.”

Parade-watchers said they were thrilled to see the streets once more filled with floats, veterans, music and more.

“We try to go every year,” said Monica Difatta, of St. Clair Shores. “It’s just a fun activity for the kids. We’re very excited to be back to doing things.”

Dan Fontella, of Grosse Pointe Woods, was at the parade in support of the Grand Marshal, Korean War veteran Gene Perye.

“I wanted to come out last year when I moved back,” he said. “It’s great, getting back to normal.”

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