The St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade, including the 2021 parade, has always prided itself on the number of military entries.

The St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade, including the 2021 parade, has always prided itself on the number of military entries.

Photo by Brian Louwers

St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade plans progressing

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 10, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — With the parade a couple weeks away, everything is going according to plan, said Dave Ellis, parade chair for the Memorial Day Parade Committee.

Things have gone so smoothly due to the experience of the committee this year, he said.

“A lot of the people on the committee last year were new,” Ellis said. “A lot of them are (on) the second year or more. That’s very helpful. So, instead of doing things the first time, they were improving on what they did last year. I’m quite satisfied with our progress.”

The parade so far has 150 entrants, Ellis said, and they are still taking applications even though the May 1 deadline has already passed. They can email

“Over a third of those groups are brand new to the parade,” Ellis said. “People that say it’s the same parade every year; it’s absolutely not. We’ve got a bunch of new things in the parade.”

Ellis also said they have around 20 different musical groups including high school bands and a fife and drum corps.

This year there were 560 attendees at the spaghetti dinner on April 27, Ellis said, raising a couple thousand dollars.

The grand marshal for the parade is Robert Haffner. According to notes from Ellis, Haffner is a combat veteran of World War II who participated in the Normandy campaign in France during the summer of 1944, Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands in September 1944 and the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945.

According to notes from Ellis, he was awarded the French National Order of the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest honor bestowed for actions of great value to the nation of France, and he has been a longtime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bruce Post in St. Clair Shores.

The veteran of the year is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eva Rodriguez. According to the notes, Rodriguez originally enlisted in the U.S. Army as a field medic and transitioned to a warrant officer helicopter pilot. She flew UH-1 Hueys and UH-60 Blackhawks and earned her senior aviator wings. She flew missions in South Korea and 52 missions during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and she served as part of the Sinai peacekeeping force.

Her awards include the U.S. Legion of Merit and the Air Medal. According to the notes, she is a native Detroiter who graduated from St. Florian High in Hamtramck and is a member of the VFW at the Bruce Post.

Dave Rubello, council liaison for the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade Committee, said this parade is going to be a once-in-a-century parade.

“It’s on schedule to be one of the most amazing parades anyone’s seen here in decades,” Rubello said.

Along with a lot of military entries, something the committee prides itself on, Rubello said they’re also going to have some futuristic guests from Los Angeles attending the parade.

“The streets of St. Clair Shores are going to be shaking when we come through there,” Rubello said.

Ellis said folks should remember to bring water and sunscreen, especially if you are in the parade. He said they have a couple dozen volunteers and are in pretty good shape.

They are still accepting volunteers and anyone who wants to participate can email They’ll need help setting up Saturday, tearing down Sunday and more.

Training for parade volunteers is on Thursday, May 25, and Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m. Volunteers only need to attend one training session.