Children remember local veterans during the 2018 Roseville Memorial Day Parade.

Children remember local veterans during the 2018 Roseville Memorial Day Parade.

File photo provided by Matt Belz

Roseville to move forward with Memorial Day parade

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 3, 2021


ROSEVILLE — Despite lingering concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Roseville will host its annual Memorial Day parade.

It will start at 10 a.m. at Pinehurst Street, which is the staging area, and proceed east down Common Road toward the Fire Department headquarters and City Hall, where it will finish.

Matt Belz, a member of the Roseville Memorial Day Parade Committee, said that the biggest difference between this year’s parade and other years is that there will not be a memorial ceremony in Roseville’s civic center plaza to honor the fallen.

“I think the most important distinction is there will be no in-person ceremony. That’s a big change. Other than that, it will look mostly the same. Spectators will still have to social distance,” he explained. “The parade will have the traditional mix of bands and churches and community organizations. The end of the parade ceremony won’t happen this year where the grand marshal speaks, the Roseville police chaplain recognizes Roseville’s fallen by name, the high school band plays and the Roseville Honor Guard performs a presentation of colors.”

However, like 2020, the parade committee will produce an online memorial to Roseville’s fallen service members so they can be celebrated in some form by residents.

“Last year, we did a virtual ceremony because the committee felt the ceremony was the important part of the day. The ceremony honors the fallen,” said Belz. “We are planning to do it the same way this year. We will reshoot some of the segments of last year’s presentation. We will include some new speeches and post it on the Roseville parade committee YouTube channel.”

Space is still open for local groups to join the parade, although a grand marshal has been named.

“The parade grand marshal is DJ Screamin’ Scott Randall from WRIF. He does a lot of charity work during the year. We’re excited to have him on board and have him taking part,” said Belz. “They can go to, and that will lead you to the Facebook page where people can fill out a form to be in the parade. We need everyone to sign up by May 24.”

He hopes to spread the word about the parade despite COVID-19, since it was an event that was often overlooked even before the pandemic.

“I had discussed with people that back in 2019, we were seeing online chatter that they didn’t even know we did a parade in Roseville, so we are trying to get the word out that this is a point of civic pride and that this is something important that we do,” said Belz. “It’s open to everyone in the community. We welcome everybody and anybody. A unit from the Macomb County Sheriff (will be) coming out, the St. Clair Shores Jeepers Club will be taking part and so forth.”

Many city officials are still cautious about any public event, given the health concerns, but Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins said a parade offered a means to social distance and wear masks while outdoors, reducing the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19.

“In regard to the current health order that was put in place (in March), which runs through at least the 19th of April, we don’t know where we will be beyond that point. However, based off of the existing order framework, outdoor gatherings at nonresidential venues allow for 300 persons or fewer to be gathered,” he said. “The question is: Is a street side, like during a parade, a venue? We’ve had some conversation about this, and we think it is far safer to have a three-quarter-of-a-mile parade route than it is to have a memorial service at our civic center plaza.”

He added that extra measures will be in place to encourage people to be safe.

“A parade is easier to get some distancing (than at an event at a centralized venue),” said Adkins. “We would require according to the existing health orders to have a plan to encourage folks not from the same household to social distance. We would probably have some extra parade marshals walk the route and assist people with their spacing.”

Belz said that COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind and that it requires organizers to be flexible.

“It’s a little disconcerting,” he said. “At this point in planning, you have to proceed with the idea that the parade is happening even though in the back of your mind that COVID could still flare up and you would have to cancel it or make adjustments. In the age of COVID, weddings, other public events and everything else is always in flux. You kind of just have to learn to live with that as a planner.”

While Adkins wants people to remember that any event is subject to change as a result of state health orders, his hope is that things will have improved by the day of the parade. He also wants to reassure the public that steps will be taken to ensure the memory of those who have fallen in service to their country will still be recognized in Roseville despite a formal remembrance service being unfeasible this year.

“We have our fingers crossed that things will start to improve (by Memorial Day) and that people will start to get vaccinated. We are playing it by ear at this point. We are planning to pre-place memorial wreaths here at the civic center plaza so they are in place when the parade disbands here. We will have some way of recognizing people even if we can’t have a formalized memorial service.”

Despite the extra challenges, Belz stressed how important recognizing Memorial Day is and how it is an important tradition in Roseville.

“I think with the Memorial Day holiday, you have to honor the fallen who laid down their lives so we can live in America and have the freedoms we enjoy,” he said. “The parade also is a way to take pride in the Roseville community. This is a way to recognize that, even if we’re hearing about a lot of bad in the world, there is still a lot of good, too.”