Details announced for Madison Heights Memorial Day parade

Parade and service will be held May 27

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 23, 2017

 Jerry Gorski, of Southfield, salutes during last year’s Memorial Day service at Madison Heights City Hall. Gorski is a member of the state VFW, which includes 46,000 members across nearly 300 posts in 12 districts.

Jerry Gorski, of Southfield, salutes during last year’s Memorial Day service at Madison Heights City Hall. Gorski is a member of the state VFW, which includes 46,000 members across nearly 300 posts in 12 districts.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MADISON HEIGHTS — As it’s done in recent years, the city of Madison Heights will hold its Memorial Day festivities the weekend before Memorial Day, saving on holiday overtime costs for city employees running the event.

This year’s parade and service are set for Saturday, May 27. The parade starts at 10 a.m., exiting the parking lot by the former Kmart at the northwest corner of John R and 12 Mile roads, before heading north on John R Road, turning left onto 13 Mile Road, and stopping a block over in front of the viewing stand at City Hall.

The streets will be closed on John R Road from 12 Mile to 13 Mile roads, and on 13 Mile Road from John R Road to Stephenson Highway, starting at 9:30 a.m. Traffic coming west on 13 Mile Road will be routed through the Sam’s Club parking lot to continue north on John R Road.

Entries are still coming in, but traditionally the parade features 60-70 groups, including veterans groups and vehicles, elected officials, volunteer organizations, sports teams, dance teams, marching bands and local businesses. Sometimes there are also local mascots, clowns, decorated bikes, the motorcycles from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, and the mini-motorbikes of the Shriners, followed by classic cars.

The majority of the operations are manned by the GFWC Madison Heights Intermediate Women’s Club, as well as community members on the Parade Committee. The Women’s Club played a crucial role by organizing the pub crawl in April that drew 160 attendees (four groups of around 40 people each), raising more than $3,200 between venue sponsorships and registration fees. Also in April, the Women’s Club held its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser, raising another $1,600.

The cable broadcast narrators this year are City Councilwoman Margene Scott and Rick Lewis, former executive director of the Madison Heights Community Family Coalition.

Following the parade, there will be a memorial service beginning at the gazebo in front of Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile Road, which will begin about 15 minutes after the parade has finished. The program will include the national anthem performed by the Lamphere High band, as well as thoughts by Mayor Brian Hartwell, a 21-gun salute, the laying of the wreaths, and “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper Yolanda McDonald.

The Memorial Day festivities were once in jeopardy when the city cut funding in 2009 due to the challenges of the Great Recession. This led to the formation of the Parade Committee, which has privately raised the funds necessary each year since. 

“The Memorial Day parade is one of our most significant community events, and a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to active service members, veterans and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Laurie Geralds, Women’s Club president, in an email. “My father, Monte Geralds, instilled a great sense of this important event through his leadership and passion for continuing the parade, and I’m honored to carry on his passion as a member of the Parade Committee. I invite the community to come, join the fun and pass on this great tradition to younger generations.”

City Councilman Robert Corbett said in an email that residents have always been supportive of the Memorial Day parade.

“It’s one of those events that mark the passage of time and bind generations together in community and remembrance of our fallen warriors,” Corbett said. “The enjoyment of our family and friends together is made more poignant by the reason we continue to celebrate our freedoms for nearly 250 years. We’re very lucky that our fellow residents on the Parade Committee have been able to continue this tradition and help pass the torch of gratitude to younger generations.”

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