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.