By Sue Moore
“The 4th of July is my favorite holiday!” That’s Kim Parker, readying her latest idea for a float to put in the annual parade in Schoolcraft. This will be the 20th year Kim has designed a float and her husband, Mark, and family have built one.
Kim and Mark have been named grand marshals of this year’s event, not because they have been contributing a float but because they do so much else for the event, according to Virginia Mongreig, treasurer of the 4th of July committee.
The couple own Mark’s Sales and Service on U.S. 131, where they repair vehicles, sell used cars and provide a towing service. They have been in business in Schoolcraft since 1997, having begun in 1994 in Vicksburg. Mark started at Kendall’s gas station on Portage Road in 1976 as a mechanic for Charlie Kendall, whom he credits for mentoring him in the business.
Their wrecker serves as the judges reviewing stand on Grand Street each year. The fireworks committee has made use of the company’s van to transport fireworks from where they are purchased out east and brought back to Schoolcraft, Mongreig said. He has also served as a judge for the car show in Burch Park. They have a ready-made pole barn to build the float and have loaned it out to other community groups when extra space is needed.
The parade float is almost always a winner because it is so creative. Kim comes up with a theme each year and then executes it to perfection, her husband said. For the 2018 parade it will be “Grease” with 50s live music emanating from the 50s diner designer float. The couple as grand marshals will be riding in a 50s-era car next to the float, Parker said.
“It usually takes a week to build the float so it’s a very busy, long week,” Kim said. The whole family of six grown kids and their spouses and 11 grandkids all help. Their reward is a dip in the family pool near Barton Lake on the 4th. The Parkers provide a cookout after the parade to their family. It works because they all live nearby. Kim also does a family gathering each Sunday and posts the meat dish of the week on Facebook. The rest of the contributors then tailor their potluck dishes to complement the theme for that Sunday, she said.
Those who attend the parade regularly will recognize the Parker family float as it is usually the most elaborate offering, easing its way from Eliza Street, down Grand, Clay Street and circle back on 14th to the garage. Mark has worked on Deb Reynolds throughout these years to slowly move their float up in the parade so the family is done by 11:45 and able to hit the pool shortly thereafter. “It stinks being at the end of the parade,” Mark said.
The kids and grandkids will take in the fireworks at 10 p.m. but the Parkers would rather stay home and relax. “I’m pooped by the end of the day,” Kim declared.
As well she might be.