Monthly Archives: June 2016

Fourth of July in Schoolcraft Draws Huge Crowds

parade 3
Walther Farms and its employees take part in the 4th of July parade. They often give out potato chips which are made from the potatoes raised on their farm. They are gathering here before the parade starts.

By Sue Moore

Celebrating the 4th of July with a parade and a ton of other activities has been a tradition in Schoolcraft for over 90 years. What makes this celebration different from the observances in other towns? Could be the over 10,000 people who line U.S. 131 three and four deep to see the parade, said Courtney Adams, one of the new persons taking over the event that has such a big draw for a village of 1,500 people.

Schoolcraft village is packed with many other activities leading up the huge fireworks display at dusk, according to Virginia Mongreig who has been involved for many years. She is coordinating the activities this time along her husband, Chip, who has been the fireworks guru for 15 years.

It takes a host of people to make all the events happen and 2016 is no exception. Newcomers to organizing the parade are TJ Gill and his girlfriend, Courtney Adams. They have big shoes to fill because Deb Reynolds has been the parade organizer for the last 14 years. Fortunately, Adams works with Reynolds at Kalamazoo County State Bank, where there is a company policy of giving back to the community, allowing them to take some time from work to get things done for the parade.

This year’s parade will feature Grand Marshal Tiana Carruthers, the first person targeted in a Feb. 20 shooting rampage by an Uber driver in Kalamazoo County which left six dead and two, including Tiana, injured, and the organization Kalamazoo Strong. The organization is a group of concerned citizens who organized after the shooting rampage, and again after June 7, when the Chain Gang bicyclists were struck by a pickup truck, leaving five dead and four hospitalized with serious injuries. “It’s all about Kalamazoo this year,” Mongreig pointed out.

Tiana is very susceptible to loud noise according to Sheriff Richard Fuller who will be accompanying her. Thus, fire engines have been asked not to activate their sirens as they drive down the parade route.

When the parade celebrities pass by the reviewing stand and announcer Doug Flynn, they will be treated to a rendition of the National Anthem by Schoolcraft’s own Sara Taylor-Kowalski. She studied vocal music for four years at Western Michigan University after growing up in Schoolcraft and singing for many local events.

Prizes will be given to sponsors of winning floats for creativity and decorative enhancements.

Schoolcraft’s 91th Annual Independence Day Celebration

IMG_3617Monday, July 4, 2016

7-11 a.m. – Pancake breakfast – Schoolcraft Upper Elementary – Sponsored by the Schoolcraft Lions Club
6:30-7:30 a.m. – Late registration for Firecracker Run at the High School
7:30 a.m. – 1 mile fun run/walk (free at the High School)
8 a.m. – 5 mile Firecracker Run – High School
8 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Car show – at Burch Park
9 a.m.-2 p.m. – Ice Cream Social – Schoolcraft United Methodist Church
10 a.m. – Parade lineup
11 a.m. – 4th of July parade through downtown Schoolcraft – route is Eliza St., to Grand St. to Clay St.
Noon – American Legion Chicken & Ribs BBQ – Legion Hall on Clay St.
Post parade events:
Underground Railway House & Garden Tours until 3 p.m., sponsored by Schoolcraft Historical Society
Fire Truck rides & Fire Prevention trailer – Schoolcraft Upper Elementary – sponsored by South County fire Authority
2-6 p.m. American Legion Dance – American Legion Hall on Clay St.
10 p.m. – Fireworks north of Schoolcraft High School. Parking available in the school lot – funded by donations to the Schoolcraft 4th of July committee

Veterans Honored in the Schoolcraft Parade

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Max Loker designed this float for the Schoolcraft 4th of July parade. He has invited veterans to accompany him on this first of five hay wagons that carry service men and women in the parade.

By Sue Moore

A float honoring veterans which has been entered in the Schoolcraft parade for the last 10 years or more will no longer be organized by Max Loker, a Schoolcraft resident and former Marine. 2015 was his last year, but he is expecting others to step in to honor veterans as he has done for many years.

To adorn the float, he acquired a silhouette of the flag raising on Iwo Jima from a man who had it on his barn but was ready to give it away, Loker said. “We put it on a hay wagon and invited retired military to sit on the float.”

“I just shake the bushes each year and some guys fall out to be on the float. I invite them to ride and tell them it won’t cost them a thing. This observance is not for me, it’s for the veterans. The first and only mishap occurred last year when one of the riders fell off. But he got right back on and rode the whole rest of the way. It’s tough to get around corners with five wagons all linked together.”

“We have grown this observance for our veterans and it makes me really proud. In fact, being in the parade is one of the greatest experiences I have had in life because people show us their love as we ride down the street. We had two kids playing taps one year. The crowd would stand and it seemed like we were all on the same page, just real American people appreciating those who have served.”

Loker’s most memorable moment was his Talons Out Honors Flight to Washington, D.C. in 2014. For a farm kid from Vicksburg to go to the nation’s capital and be treated with such dignity and respect was a once in a lifetime thing, Loker said. He entered the Marines in 1954, a year after graduating from Vicksburg High School. It was during the Korean War but all of his service was spent at 29 Palms, Calif.

For the last few years, the Schoolcraft parade has been honored by a fly-over by the Air National Guard at the start of the parade. One year, a parade official had been trying to arrange it but wasn’t getting the right answer. Loker called the captain at the base in Indiana and said it wasn’t acceptable when there would be all these veterans riding in the parade. He insisted the team journey over Schoolcraft on their way to Indiana and Ohio. They were right on time that year.

“When the parade is all over, we have to quickly unload the wagons and get them back to the farmers we’ve borrowed them from. The 4th of July almost always comes right in the middle of haying time,” Loker said.

Cruise in to the Schoolcraft Car Show

car 14By Linda Lane

Roadsters, muscle cars, coupes and classic cars will cruise into Schoolcraft on July 4th for the Annual Car Show in Birch Park from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This is the third year we’ve held the Annual Car Show. The day goes so fast with so many things happening, it’s really an exciting event. The day is really for the car owners to show off their cars,” Theresa O’Leary said. O’Leary organizes the Annual Car Show with Village Manager Cheri Lutz.

“We send out letters in May inviting car owners to participate and we’ve had close to 100 cars in the past couple of years,” O’Leary said. Car owners who pre-register pay only $10 to participate; owners who pay on arrival are charged $15.

The Village of Schoolcraft awards trophies to the “Top Ten” cars, which are determined by the cars owners’ votes. There will be three additional trophies: Ladies’ Choice; Village Officials Choice; and Local Business Choice.

During the event, door prizes are drawn including gift cards from local restaurants and businesses and a gift bag from a local dentist. A 50/50 drawing will be held with proceeds going to the local food bank. Volunteers will be on hand to help park cars and help with the activities of the day.

Several food vendors will be stationed in Birch Park, including “The Beginnings” with barbecue, and Mike King, known as “the Weinie King” selling hotdogs. A DJ, Nate Henschel, will be playing music in the park.

Firecracker Miler Fundraiser

The Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters are in charge of the five-mile Firecracker run at 8 a.m. on the 4th of July in Schoolcraft. It is a fundraiser for the Boosters who do many good things for the high school athletic program, according to Wade Rutkoskie, the group’s president.

Some of the proceeds go to the fireworks display at dusk, bringing many people back to the high school for the largest show of its kind in the area.

Those who want a mild bit of exercise can participate in the one-mile fun run/walk at 7:30 a.m. Both runs start at the high school with the one-mile a free, fun, non-competitive outing for people of all ages. Finishers receive a participation ribbon.

The five-mile race is unique because of its distance and its fast and flat course. The cost to participate is $25 for early registration and $30 on the day of the event. There will be an awards ceremony and door prizes given out at 9:10 a.m.

Lions Pancake Breakfast

pancakesThe Schoolcraft Lions Club prepares pancakes for the multitudes on the 4th of July from 7 to 11 a.m. at the school’s upper elementary cafeteria. “It’s a great way to start the full day of activities in Schoolcraft,” according to Molly Hartlieb, a Lions Club member.

During the breakfast a special free vision screening for children ages 1-5 will be held. That’s because one of the missions of the national service organization is eyeglass assistance for those in need. Besides that, many of the dollars raised go right back into community for the Eagle’s Nest food pantry, weekend backpack program, and South County Community Services.

The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. Children under five and uniformed military and police are free. The Lions Club is a nonprofit organization that also supports Leader Dogs for the Blind, the Michigan Eye Bank, KidSight, and the Michigan All-State Band.

Summer Festival Schedule

B&B Opens (No Lunch) 4 p.m.
Food Prices for Children – $1.00
Children’s Games, Crafts, & Raffle 6-8 p.m.
Magic Show-Ron Jaxon 7 p.m.
Free Kidsight Vision Screening 6-8 p.m.
Live Music-The Hatfield & McCoys 9 p.m.-12 a.m.

B&B Opens for Lunch 11 a.m.
Adult Cornhole Tournament 6-9 p.m.
Live Music – Back Roads Band 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Vicksburg Alumni Breakfast 9 a.m.
Adult Horseshoe Tournament 11 a.m.
B&B Opens for Lunch 11 a.m.
Live Music – South County 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Please Note: Thursday Night is Family Night and all ages are welcome. Friday and Saturday nights after 9 p.m., no one under the age of 21 will be allowed in the B&B tent area.