Parade a time to remember, thank those who have fallen

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 3, 2016

 Military vehicles drive down Harper Avenue during the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade May 29.

Military vehicles drive down Harper Avenue during the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade May 29.

Photo by Sean Work

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — With crowds of more than 80,000 people lining Harper Avenue May 29, the 64th annual St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade stepped off with a lone bagpiper, a riderless horse and honor guard to help viewers remember the reason for the festivities — those who have died in service to the United States. 

There were 150 registered entries, of which 40 were military — the largest number of military groups in any parade in Michigan, according to Parade Committee Chair Cheryl Furdos. 

“The parade was the best one we’ve produced, in terms of content and timing, and the easiest in terms of the flow and organization of the participants,” Furdos said in an email message June 2. “I was thrilled with the whole event and feel that we get better each year with the coordination and organization of the production.”

For Tracie Roth, of St. Clair Shores, the parade is an annual tradition: Her daughters march with the Girl Scouts each year. 

“It’s just fun. I enjoy it,” she said. “My girls look forward to it every year. They enjoy it a lot. We get our family together.” 

The Jacobs family, of Roseville, sat along Harper Avenue behind a memorial wreath. 

“We want people to remember that Memorial Day is for those who have given it all,” said Marilynn Jacobs. Her family includes veterans who have served in Korea, World War II, Desert Storm and Vietnam. “We are very thankful for our veterans.”

Tim Jacobs, a Vietnam veteran who served from 1968 to 1969, agreed. 

“I grew up from the old school. Memorial Day was honoring the dead who served before you,” he said. “I like to keep it that way.”

Bob Duffer, of Clinton Township, said he was thankful for the parade “for everybody to get a chance to say thank you to all the veterans.”

“It’s good for kids to learn that veterans gave their life, and maybe they’ll grow up to serve too,” he continued.

Parade Committee member Chuck Hall said he was happy with how everything fell into place for the May 29 parade.

“We were OK with the weather; our lineup fell into place. The more we do it, the better we get at it,” he said while taking a break from monitoring the parade route. “Thank you to all the people who support the veterans and come out to the event. It’s packed all the way from start to finish.”

Mary Ann Placido, of Roseville, said she always enjoys the parade. She was returning after having watched it a few years ago on Jefferson Avenue.

“The atmosphere, all the military, the different branches,” she said. “Everybody’s here together as a community, and you’re here to root on the people who served and the people who served in the past.”

Along with many military vehicles, classic cars and bands from all over metro Detroit, there were Boy Scouts, dance teams, karate schools, vehicles from famous movies, and even pirates, princesses and superheroes. 

Lucian Harbar owns Bunch Tax Service on Harper Avenue and just moved into that location six months ago. He lives in Novi, but said the parade was a “lot more than we expected, that’s for sure.”

Furdos said this year will be hard to surpass.

“It’s going to be hard to top this year’s parade for the overall quality of the entries, the coordination and timing of the lineup, the dedication of the volunteers, and the wonderful participation and encouragement from the spectators ... but we’ll do it,” said Furdos in an email message. “Next year is our 65th parade and we’ve got big things planned.”

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