In what organizers referred to as one of the largest Memorial Day parades they had been involved with, Greater West Bloomfield area residents marched from Orchard Lake to Keego Harbor to honor members of the American military on Monday.
The parade had been in question in recent months over a disagreement between Sylvan Lake city officials and Keego Harbor officials regarding the level of parade involvement between the two governments.
Mayor Rob Kalman said that the parade itself was never in doubt and after several hundred turned out along eastbound Orchard Lake Road — the parade route began at , ran northbound along Cass Lake Road and ended at Keego Harbor City Hall — it might be tough to disagree.
"There’s a core group of volunteers that really worked hard to make sure everything went smooth and they deserve a ton of credit," Kalman said. "The West Bloomfield Police Chief was in the car with the Orchard Lake Police Chief and our Police Chief – all three of them were together ... we didn’t want to limit it to just Keego."
Some along the parade route sought reprieve from 90-degree heat underneath the trunk hood of their vehicles and others underneath umbrellas, but perhaps the most popular gathering-place was at Gino’s Pizzeria, just a stone’s throw from City Hall.
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With the doors to its’ kitchen open for a picnic taking place later in the day and restrooms open to anyone who needed them, the 41-year Keego Harbor institution delayed opened until 2 p.m. in order to accommodate the parade. As Gina Meredith of West Bloomfield watched from the restaurant’s patio on Cass Lake Road, she said she could pick out regulars marching.
“Our favorites are the (Cub and Boy) Scouts who march, the marching band, the classic cars … it’s an awesome community and this is one of those events which brings everyone together,” she said.
Orchard Lake Mayor Bruce McIntyre, a 32-year, retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, described the parade as a “show of solidarity” for the community and its’ veterans.
“A lot of veterans don’t talk about (military service) much at all, so to have the community come out and tell them what it means to them is important,” McIntyre said.
U.S. Air Force Major William Burnett, who serves as President of the Macon, Thomas, West Bloomfield Chapter of , agreed with the sentiment.
“The kids who stand up and salute to us when we’re walking by in the parade probably don’t know how good that makes us feel,” Burnett said. “Words can’t express that. I saw tears in the eyes of the men and women in our chapter.”
Parade chairperson and Keego Harbor Mayor Pro Tem Sid Rubin presented awards to McIntyre and Burnett (on behalf of the Tuskegee Airmen) among other service personnel and honorees:
- Ken Macon, of West Bloomfield
- John Kissick, of Sylvan Lake
- Ethel Grossman, of Southfield
- Joseph Adler, of West Bloomfield
- In memory of Army Spc. Byron W. Fouty, of Waterford
Recent graduate Scott Ebert played "Taps" at the parade for the second year, he said, and still, he felt nervous.
"It feels good to be the last one (marching in the band) and honor the veterans. When I’m playing it, I start feeling it. It’s awesome. Nervous a little bit, but awesome."
A sincere thank-you to all the men and women who have served our country and to those who are currently serving!