By Brian Freiberger
Schoolcraft will be celebrating its 92nd annual Fourth of July parade, headlined by one of the best firework shows in the state. This event attracts an estimated 20,000 people to the village, according to Fireworks Director of the Schoolcraft Fourth of July Committee.
The parade will begin lining up at 10 a.m., an hour before the 11 a.m. parade start time, at the railroad tracks on Eliza Street which will be closed to through traffic for several hours.
The parades route begins on Eliza, then turns right onto US 131. The parade travels along US 131 before turning right again onto Clay St. by the elementary and middle schools, where it will end and rides on fire trucks will be offered. Only walkers in the parade will be allowed to throw candy, according to a flyer released by the Schoolcraft Fourth of July committee.
It’s unusual for US1 131 to be closed, but the Department of Transportation and the State Police have given their blessing to this closure for the last few years, making the parade much more expansive. Both northbound and southbound traffic will be diverted west from US 131 at U Ave. and US 131 at XY Ave. to Eighth St. “Those traveling on US 131 during these times are encouraged to seek alternative routes, and attendees are encouraged to arrive early,” according to a statement by Schoolcraft Police Chief Bryan Campbell.
There will be plenty of activities before and after the parade.
From 7-11 a.m., Schoolcraft Lions Club will host a pancake breakfast at Schoolcraft upper elementary school. A mile-long walk-run will start at 7:30 a.m., followed by the five-mile Firecracker race at Schoolcraft High School beginning at 8 a.m. The annual Fourth of July Car show at Burch Park will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., an ice cream social will be held at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church located on US 131.
After the parade, the Schoolcraft Historical Society will give tours of the Dr. Nathan Thomas house and garden, a stop on the underground railroad, until 3 p.m. Also, The Schoolcraft American Legion, located on Cass St., will be having a chicken and ribs barbecue through the day, with live music and other family activities.
Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m.
The fireworks will light the night sky with about a thousand shells from 3, 4, 5 and 6-inch mortars, according to Fireworks Director Randey Palmer. “This is better than the South Haven fireworks show minus Lake Michigan and a pie,” he explained.
The fireworks will be displayed north of Schoolcraft High School. Palmer said over the past several years that they are gradually making the show bigger.
Estimated cost of the fireworks is $10,000, and is funded by donations from the village of Schoolcraft, Schoolcraft Township and local merchants. Donations will be accepted during the Fourth of July festivities as well, according to Jon Krum.
For the past 24 years, Krum, who has been volunteering for the Fourth of July committee said, “I think it’s great for a small town to have an event like this.”
Three people volunteer their time through the year to gather and build the fireworks display. Randey and Rod Palmer and Chip Mongrieg put in approximately 400 hours to make sure the fireworks are ready for the event. “This is something I like to do to give back to the community. I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Palmer.
Free parking will be available at Schoolcraft schools for the parade and fireworks. Last year’s fireworks show can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch.