New route announced for Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade

Parade Committee puts out call for participants

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published May 5, 2023

File photo by Erin Sanchez


MADISON HEIGHTS — It’s been nearly four years since the last Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade. It finally returns this year, with a different route due to road construction, and there is still time to sign up as a participant.

The parade will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 27 — the weekend before Memorial Day, which saves on overtime costs for city staff. The parade will depart from Wilkinson Middle School at 26524 John R Road and proceed north on John R Road. It will then turn east onto 11 Mile Road and continue to Madison High School, 915 E. 11 Mile Road. A memorial service will then take place on the high school’s football field.

Those who want to walk or drive in the parade have until Saturday, May 20 to register online at, or by emailing Those eligible include veterans and veteran groups, school bands, entertainers, local businesses, community groups, the owners of classic cars and more. Elected officials are also welcome, although they must currently represent the city of Madison Heights. No campaigning is allowed.

Prior to the pandemic, the parade would start from a parking lot at the corner of 12 Mile and John R roads, and wind its way down John R and West 13 Mile roads to Madison Heights City Hall, where the military memorials are located. The service would take place on the lawn near the gazebo.

The Parade Committee pays for much of the event with private fundraising. In recent years, the city has agreed to cover the costs of police officers and public works personnel staffing the event.

Andy McGillivray, with the Parade Committee, said the hope is to return to the regular route next year. He said it wouldn’t work this year due to the construction at City Hall, as well as road work that has turned 13 Mile and John R roads into detours.

“We’re on a different route, a shorter route than in previous years. There are many unknowns. It’s a learning experience, a major undertaking,” McGillivray said. “But staff has been very supportive. In fact, a staffer came up with an idea to use Wilkinson and Madison High. We went through probably three or four different iterations of parade routes, and the city would see problems here and there, but the mayor and council kept saying they wanted the parade, and staff really got behind it. I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”

McGillivray also thanked the Madison District Public Schools for allowing their properties to be used on the parade route. The Lamphere Public Schools also offered to help, but the new route wasn’t near those buildings.

“We’re very lucky to have all this support,” McGillivray said.

After the last parade in 2019, there was no parade or service due to the COVID pandemic. Instead, the Parade Committee posted a video tribute to YouTube, featuring clips from prior years.

However, McGillivray and Brian Hartwell — then the mayor of Madison Heights, and now a district court judge in Hazel Park — still privately escorted Jean Linville, a Gold Star mother who lost her son in the Vietnam War, down the usual route on John R Road, laying a wreath at City Hall.

In 2021, there was still no parade, but there was a drive-in service at City Hall where people could sit in their cars and listen on their radios. When the full memorial service returned last year, there was still a high degree of caution due to COVID.

McGillivray said he’s happy to finally see the parade return for the full experience.

“COVID threw us all for a loop,” he said. “What many people don’t realize is we start planning the parade in January, sometimes even earlier. Last year, people asked why we didn’t have a parade, but at the time, we were still dealing with the vaccine for COVID. We just didn’t know what to expect. So, it’s definitely a challenge.

“I think it’s very important for people to remember what the day is all about, honoring our veterans and those who gave their lives for our country,” McGillivray said. “This is a day to remember people like the son of Jean Linville — to see the community support her and her family for their loss.”

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights, said she’s thrilled to bring back the parade.

“The route change allows this grand tradition to continue, and also brings more people, intentionally, to our downtown area,” Grafstein said. “But we must always remember that the true meaning of Memorial Day — and the reason for our parade — is to honor those who have lost their lives so that we can be free. It’s our duty as Americans to support the families of every service member as they sacrifice being without their loved ones — in some cases, forever. Our servicemen and women are courageous and selfless individuals, who risk their lives for freedom.”

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.

“I’m very pleased to see the parade happening this year, after being on hiatus for so long,” Fleming said. “This new route also goes through our downtown district. The parade actually used to end at the VFW Post down there, now Woodpile BBQ, many years ago. So, it’s nice to see it return, and this will also be convenient for people in the south end, and good for businesses there, as well.”

David Soltis, another council member, said Madison Heights is an official “Purple Heart City” that declared its support for servicemen and women who were wounded in combat. He said the city is supportive of its military families.

“I think the Parade Committee has always done a fantastic job. I’ve walked in the parade every year it’s been held while I’ve been in office. It really celebrates the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country,” Soltis said. “The parade always draws a large crowd, and there are others who participate, like Oakland County Sheriff (Michael) Bouchard and a whole host of organizations. It’s just heartwarming, seeing the community come together like this for our veterans.”