Gene Perye is the 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal. This year’s parade is at 1 p.m. May 30 on Jefferson Avenue.

Gene Perye is the 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal. This year’s parade is at 1 p.m. May 30 on Jefferson Avenue.

Photo provided by Greta Rubello


St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade returns for 2021

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 10, 2021

 Perye served in the Army during the Korean War. He was drafted in 1951.

Perye served in the Army during the Korean War. He was drafted in 1951.

Photo provided by Greta Rubello

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Even though an “unofficial” parade took to Harper Avenue in an effort to lift spirits in 2020, organizers are celebrating the return of the official St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade for 2021.

“We have, probably, 150 entries, and everyone has been so excited about being in the parade again,” Parade Committee Chair Cheryl Furdos said.

The 2021 St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade will be held at 1 p.m. May 30, from Nine Mile to 11 Mile roads on Jefferson Avenue.

The committee was in the home stretch of planning the 2020 parade when the pandemic forced its cancelation. It had already named its Grand Marshal, Gene Perye, a Korean War veteran. He was looking forward to riding the parade route when he contracted COVID-19, forcing him to spend 31 days hospitalized and in a rehabilitation facility instead of waving to the crowd.

The 91-year-old Perye is ready to be the 2021 Grand Marshal, however, and Furdos said they are happy to have him back. The 68th annual parade will proceed on his favorite route, Jefferson Avenue, which he said passes by his home.

“The first year they had it on Jefferson, me and my neighbors roped off the grass out here,” he said in a press release. “We had coolers, food. It was like a block party.”

Perye was drafted for service in the Korean War in 1951. He served in the 8th Army 30th Battalion and was stationed north of Seoul. He returned home in 1953, got married to his late wife, Dolores Foster, and worked for Dodge and Chrysler for decades. The couple raised their two sons in St. Clair Shores, and Perye has been active in the VFW Bruce Post 1146, the Jefferson Yacht Club, Jefferson Masonic Lodge 553, the St. Clair Shores Hockey Association, Eagle Pointe Golf League and the St. Clair Shores Carvers in his decades in the city.

Along with Perye, there will be a plethora of veterans and military groups honored in the parade, including the 338th Army Band, the Tuskegee Airmen Detroit Chapter, and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. There will also be celebrities featured in the parade, including media personalities from FOX 2; Dave Rozema, a member of the 1984 Detroit Tigers World Series Championship team; and Butch Patrick, who played Eddie Munster on “The Munsters.”

“It’s going to be spectacular. We’re ready to go,” Furdos told members of City Council May 3.

Rozema said he enjoyed being a part of the parade in 2019 and is happy to be back tossing baseballs to visitors along the parade route.

“Hopefully, this year we have some great sunshine,” said Rozema, who came to the May 3 City Council meeting.

Furdos said 2019 was the first time there was rain on the parade in 10 years, so they’re hoping for better weather this year.

Appearing at the meeting via Zoom, Patrick said he was looking forward to his visit.

“I love Detroit. I love Michigan. I know ‘The Munsters’ is very popular and very family-friendly,” he said. “Hopefully, everyone will be excited to see the Munster Mobile and myself.

“This is going to be a lot of fun.”

Along with seeing Patrick at the parade, he will also be at Civic Arena, 20000 Stephens Street, for a car show beginning at 6 p.m. May 28 to be followed by an outdoor showing of the 1966 movie “Munster, Go Home!” at dusk. Patrick, whose appearance in the parade is sponsored by Roy O’Brien Ford, said the “drive-in movie atmosphere” will be a nostalgic way for people to enjoy the movie.

“It’s a family-friendly Memorial Day weekend with ‘The Munsters,’” said City Councilman Dave Rubello, the entrants chair of the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade.

The event is free and open to the public, courtesy of sponsor Michael Agnello Jewelers. Those wishing to bring a car to show can email Councilman Chris Vitale at vitalec@scsmi.net for more information. The movie will be shown on a screen purchased by the St. Clair Shores Activities Committee and Cool City Committee in 2020.

The parade will also include a jump by Pegasus Sky Jumpers, a flyover by the U.S. Coast  Guard Sector Detroit, the 127th Wing Commander of Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the Detroit Youth Choir, who were featured on “America’s Got Talent.”

“As the entry chairman, it was the hardest parade that I’ve done because (of) some of the things I’ve had to combat with people not wanting to come out with COVID, should we do it, should we not do it?” Rubello said. “I found it a lot more difficult to disassemble a parade after putting it together than actually creating it (in 2020).”

He said they are still working with the city on what protocols will be in place to ensure safety of participants and visitors.

“Anything the city asks us to do (we’ll do),” he said. “All safety precautions will be put in place.”

Mayor Kip Walby thanked Furdos and the committee for their efforts to put on the parade.

“They do a wonderful job, put a yearlong effort into this Memorial Day Parade, and it is a hallmark of St. Clair Shores,” he said. “They take care of it and do a terrific job ... keeping this fine parade going, year after year.”