Campbell Fox, 8, of Grosse Pointe Park, rides in the parade with his grandfather, Roger Fox, 77, of Roseville, center, and Mick DeKeyser, right, during the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade in 2023. Both Roger Fox and DeKeyser are Vietnam veterans.

Campbell Fox, 8, of Grosse Pointe Park, rides in the parade with his grandfather, Roger Fox, 77, of Roseville, center, and Mick DeKeyser, right, during the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade in 2023. Both Roger Fox and DeKeyser are Vietnam veterans.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade final touches going well

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 17, 2024


ST. CLAIR SHORES — With the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade now just days away, committee members and guests are gearing up to participate and have a float load of fun.

Dave Ellis, St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade chair, said that while it has been hectic, the parade planning is going as scheduled.

“It’s a hectic period, doing this without rehearsals, but, yeah, I think we’re on track,” Ellis said.

According to notes written out by Ellis, at the time of publication there were 180 entries, approximately 2,500 participants, more than 150 motorcycles and 330 other vehicles. They also have six high school bands and 20 other musicals groups scheduled to participate.

The parade is on Harper Avenue this year. It starts at Ridgeway Street and goes all the way to 11 Mile Road. Ellis wanted to emphasize the starting point on Ridgeway.

“There’s always confusion about that every year,” Ellis said.

At 12:45 p.m., an advance group of police vehicles will drive down the street, Ellis said.

The parade is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on May 26.

“But we also run the motorcycles and some other groups, then some of the older cars and stuff like that, sort of an advanced guard to get the streets cleared for the parade,” Ellis said. “The worst thing (about) the parade is waiting for it to start, so we like to tee it up with something a little bit sooner.”

Lt. Matt McCallister from the St. Clair Shores Police Department said in an email that Harper Avenue will close down at 11:45 a.m. and will reopen when the parade ends.

The grand marshal for the parade this year is United States Air Force pilot Madison Marsh. According to notes written by Ellis, Marsh graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2023 with a degree in astrophysics. She was also crowned Miss America in 2024 and is the first member of the United States armed forces to have that honor.

The St. Clair Shores Veteran of the Year is United States Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Atkinson. According to the notes, Atkinson is 98 years old and served in World War II and the Korean War. He has been a resident of St. Clair Shores for 55 years and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for 40 years.

Ellis said there are at least four veterans who will be driven near the front of the parade who are 98 years old or older.

To celebrate the parade, the night before on May 25, there will be a lighted drone show in the St. Clair Shores social district. The exact time is not known yet, but it should last around 20 minutes, Ellis said.

“It’s the first time one has ever been done in St. Clair Shores,” Ellis said. “The parade committee’s kind of excited to bring that to the city also.”

Councilman Dave Rubello said he’s definitely excited for the parade in general.

“This is the best one we ever did,” Rubello said.

A few of the entries include the Masonic Lodge, the Big Head Corp from Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Detroit Shriners Shrine Clown Unit. Rubello said they haven’t had the Shriners in the parade in years.

“It’s good to have them back in the parade,” Rubello said. “They’ve got a clown team. They’ve got an honor guard. It’s good for the kids.”

He also said St. Clair Shores should be proud to get Miss America to come to the parade.

“It’s the first time ever in the history of the parade,” Rubello said.

McCallister said in the email he wanted to stress to parents to keep an eye on their children throughout the duration of the parade.

“It is not uncommon at these events with large crowds of thousands of spectators for children to walk away and not remember where their parents are,” McCallister said in the email. “Also, keep an eye on the children that run into the street after candy that has been thrown short of the curb.”

Parking rules for the parade are the same as they are on any given day and lots of vehicles will be parked on side streets along the parade route.

“It’s important to remember that these vehicles cannot block residents’ driveways, fire hydrants, sidewalks or be parked too close to stop signs,” McCallister said in the email. “I would stress the importance of driving safely and slowly due to the number of children that will be on foot in the area.”

The Parade Committee is still in need of volunteers. To volunteer for the parade, contact A volunteer training session will take place on the Thursday before the parade, on May 23 starting at 6 p.m. at the St. Clair Shores City Hall at  27600 Jefferson Avenue. There are many things volunteers can do including helping along the parade route, setting up and much more.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is that people that volunteer to help with the parade for the day really enjoyed the experience and felt like they participated in putting on something that was pretty special,” Ellis said.

Ellis said sometimes there are folks that say it’s the same parade every year and they don’t like certain entries in the parade. He said that though not every entry in the parade is for everybody, there’s something for everybody.

“Something I might not like is somebody else’s favorite thing in the parade,” Ellis said.

Ellis served in the armed forces for 30 years and moved to St. Clair Shores. He said they found it to be a patriotic community and that was a factor in why they decided to stay in the city. He originally heard about the parade and its legacy when he was in Europe.

“I had a number of people tell me, ‘Oh, they run the best parade in the country there,’ so we’ve got to keep that standard up,” Ellis said.