Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 32 of 2012 - Parades

Strike up the band, here come the policecars and firetrucks and you know the parade cannot be too far behind!  Parades were a part of our family's summer activities.  And for many years, as a youngster, I thought it was pretty cool to have a parade for MY  BIRTHDAY every year.  Having a May 29th birthdate, means it coincides with Memorial Day (sometimes it falls on my birthday!) and all the special observances for those that have lost their lives trying to keep us free!

  Similarly observed today, we enjoyed a parade and ceremonies at the cemetary and city park, complete with band music, speeches and a 21 gun salute. At some point, someone explained to me that the parade and subsequent barbeque and birthday cake did not necessarily go together.  In later years, I was in the parade with my clarinet and the Romeo High School Marching band.  That's me...second in line...and I hope I'm on the right foot!  We are marching north of Main Street in Romeo.  That's the Congregational Church on the right.  The only other person I can identify is Debbie Braunschweig playing piccolo two people behind me.  I remember the wool uniforms as being very classy, with the attached red capes...but very hot in warm weather and very stinky if they got wet.  We had no rain gear!

 Mr. E.C. Ojala was our band director and also the choir director at the Romeo Methodist Church (pictured here behind the tuba player.)

I see a few faces I recognize in the band.  But look at the crowds lining both sides of the street.  Parades were a BIG DEAL!  During my high school years,  The RHS Marching Band would participate in 3-4 parades in the area and receive payment for appearing.  It was a great fund raiser for the band.  Our yearly trip to the Traverse City Cherry Festival and an overnight stay at the cabins in Cadillac was a highlight of each summer.  (BTW, the cabins are still there!  We go by them on the way to Sand Lake and its always a trip down memory lane...stories for another time.)

But as a youngster, I remember Dad always involved in the parade from a retailer point of view.  Working with Eggleston's Department Store in Romeo, I remember several floats that I got to ride on...often in pamjamas for some reason.  One had all of us kiddos in new pajamas from the store and there was this big cloud (on the top of a pole) that looked like cotton.  We kids had to lay under it and pretend to be asleep.  We would sit up to see where we were and would promptly be told to lay back down.  I also remember Dad working the the Miss Romeo float.  One of his employees, Connie Linteau, was Miss Romeo.  She got to sit on the top of a very elaborate structure, and her "court" or the girls that were the runners up sat down lower.  I remember how beautiful I thought Connie was.  Funny story with that, too...her mother, Kate, was our babysitter when Mom got strep throat and was too sick to care for us.  They were also the family that had the pig farm on 29 Mile Road where Dad collected the stones for our front wall on Fritz Drive (another store line!).  And even more than that, Connie later married Frank Kungel, who was one of my all time favorite teachers in High School.  SMALL WORLD...and I'm off the subject here.

"Queen" floats were important entries in the parades.  Note this one is scanned backwards...but look at the design and beauty of the workmanship. Many times they were not pulled, but were built around a vehicle.  An opening was left in the front for the driver to steer the float down the middle of the road and hope that there were no tricky corners.

"Friendship Lights the World"

 This photo also shows the elaborate design and detail that went into floats from my childhood.  Note the Statue of Liberty at the back of this float!  I still remember one float in a Peach Festival Parade in Romeo that was some sort of pirate ship.  It was so tall that each electric line over the road had to be held up with a tall pole so it could make its way down the parade route.  I don't remember there being candy and treats thrown to the viewers lining the street.  I do remember how chairs, blankets and sometimes roped off areas were marked early in the day to ensure the best vantage point.  As people gathered, the kids were told to stay on the curb and BE PATIENT!

A fun time was had by all...EVERYONE loves a parade!


  1. Ops...I guess I never thought we would used the photos that I scanned in wrong!!!! LOL So glad we have them even though!

  2. I am the clarinet on the far right in the top band picture! Didn't we have the coolest drum cadences?!?