Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Schoolcraft 4th of July Celebration

By Sue Moore

The population of Schoolcraft multiplies by thousands for the annual 4th of July parade that snakes over Eliza, U.S. 131 and Clay beginning at 11 a.m. It runs until about noon with over 75 parade entries.

The grand marshal for the parade will be River Fox, who just graduated from Schoolcraft High School. The village will celebrate his accomplishments as he won the state championship for heavyweight wrestlers at 285 lbs. His record for his senior season was 50-2 and he was ranked number one in the state in Division 4. He was also a key anchor on the varsity football team, playing both defensive tackle and offensive lineman. He was a four-year starter on the varsity track team in discus and shotput in which he qualified for the state tournament.

The fireworks display brings the day’s events to a thrilling close at 10 p.m. near the high school on the north side. The cost of the pyrotechnics has increased this year from $7,000 to $10,000, because prices have increased on Chinese exports, according to Virginia Mongreig, event coordinator for many years. Her husband, Chip, has been a mainstay of the show. He has recruited Randey and Rod Palmer the last five years. They get an assist from Fred Western who has the fireworks show programmed and ready to go. Money for the display comes from community donations and individuals that Jon Krum oversees.

Deb Reynolds is chairing the parade for the 17th year. She has become a master at keeping it all under control and ready to roll at exactly the moment the gun goes off. She has tried to bow out for the last several years but nobody has stepped up to undertake the job so she just keeps moving ahead with an assist from Kalamazoo County State Bank, where she is a collections officer.

These volunteers are looking for help from younger members of the community. They are hoping that new blood will be found to take their place in the year 2020.

Firecracker 5-Miler Run

By Sue Moore

Running a five-mile race in the 4th of July heat early in the morning is a great way to start the day of celebration, according to Randy Small, Schoolcraft High School basketball coach. The Firecracker 5-Miler, sponsored by the Athletic Boosters, begins at 8 a.m. in the high school parking lot and circles around the village.

After the race, the Boosters will give away door prizes, but runners must be present to win. A race shirt goes with those who register early for the run. Late registration will take place on July 3 and and on July 4 until 7:30 a.m. for $30 at the high school. The event benefits the athletes and coaches of Schoolcraft Community Schools.

This race is known for its unique distance as well as its fast and flat course. It will be timed by Mac’s Sports Timing for quick and accurate results. Runners will receive their timing tag and bib number during packet pickup on the morning of race day.

If the 5-miler is too long for potential runners or if they prefer to walk, there is a new 5K Walk event only beginning at 7:30 a.m. There is also a free, fun, non-competitive run/walk for people of all ages at 7:30 a.m. on the high school grounds. Finishers will receive a participation ribbon. Customized trophies will be presented to men’s and women’s top overall winners and to men’s and women’s top overall master winners for the 5-miler. Customized medals go to the top three places in 13 different age groups for the 5-miler. Results will be available following the race and posted at Participants who register online can have results sent to them via text.

Participants are encouraged to stick around Schoolcraft for the many other events scheduled for the day, Small said.

American Legion BBQ Dinner

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M. Sziede of the VFW marching unit some of his organization good food after the parade in 2018.

Schoolcraft’s American Legion Post 475 at 425 E. Clay St. will continue its tradition of celebrating the 4th of July in Schoolcraft by opening its doors to the public for a barbecue chicken or rib dinner from noon to 4 p.m. following the parade.

The post provides indoor and outdoor dining facilities that feature the “River Run” live band upstairs in the building. Outside under the big white tent, the “Laditude” live band will hold forth from 1-5 p.m. with its country/blues/classic rock.

Tickets are on sale for the annual 4th of July raffle with prizes of a Royal Gourmet four-burner gas grill, a 32GB Apple iPad, and Schoolcraft Harding’s $50 meat certificates. The drawing will be held at 5 p.m. on July 4. Winners need not be present to win.

Schoolcraft Village Council Honors Citizens of the Year

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Deb Christiansen, honored citizen, at right.

Deb Christiansen and Harriett Swartz have been named Citizens of the Year by the Schoolcraft Village Council. It’s a posthumous award for Swartz, who died last year.

The award is presented annually to individuals who have performed outstanding service or made exceptional voluntary contributions to the community. The first person to be honored was Marilyn Jones, who received the award last year for her poetry and other writing about Schoolcraft.

Christiansen will be honored by appearing in the village’s annual 4th of July parade.

When selecting recipients for this award, the award committee looks for individuals who lend leadership and vision, organize or assist in achieving organizational goals, who serve on service or school committees and youth programs lending expertise and guidance voluntarily. The recipient will have performed voluntary services that have advanced or helped the quality of life in the Village of Schoolcraft.

Schoolcraft lost a true pioneer and iconic spirit with Harriett Swartz’s passing last year. She was a beacon of light in the community with a friendly smile for everyone. Her knowledge of Schoolcraft and its history was unsurpassed. She was the daughter of Mary Jane Swartz who wrote, So I’m Told: The Nineteenth Century in Schoolcraft, Michigan. Harriett herself went on to write several delightful books on Schoolcraft with photographer Elizabeth Hamilton including The Porches of Schoolcraft, Kitchens of Schoolcraft, and So We See. An educator for 41 years at the Milwood Elementary School, Harriett will be remembered as an educator of the highest esteem for those eager to learn about Schoolcraft’s illustrious past. Nancy Rafferty, Harriett’s sister, will be accepting this award on her behalf.

Deb Christiansen is a 30-year resident of Schoolcraft who, after graduating three daughters from Schoolcraft High School, turned her attention to spearheading events in Schoolcraft to bring awareness to the history and charm of the Village. She has chaired several historical home tours and a hauntingly historical cemetery tour. Proceeds benefitted three Schoolcraft organizations: Schoolcraft Community Library, the Ladies Library of Schoolcraft and the Schoolcraft Historical Society. She published the book, This Beautiful Prairie, based on these tours. The title of this book, she says, came from an article about the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church in the Schoolcraft Express dated March 11, 1920. For the last two years she has co-chaired the Christmas Walk with her friend, Kelly Bergland. Deb founded and runs the local Tournament of Writers, which attracts many entries on Schoolcraft history. She then collects all the winning entries and publishes them in the Small Town Anthology series.

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast

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Craig Riddle, a member of the Schoolcraft Lions Club gets the pancake syrup ready.

The Schoolcraft Lions Club will be holding its annual Pancake Breakfast on July 4th from 7 to 10:30 a.m. at the Schoolcraft Elementary gym on East Clay Street. Breakfast is free for veterans and men and women in uniform. Tickets are $6 for adults; $3 for kids ages 6 to 12. Kids age 5 and under are free.

The Sight Mobile will be at the breakfast site from 8 to 10 a.m. to provide vision screening for infants all the way up to 18 years of age.

July 4th Event Schedule ★

7-10:30 a.m.: Pancake breakfast at Schoolcraft Elementary, hosted by Schoolcraft Lions Club

8 a.m.-3 p.m.: Car show at Burch Park

8 a.m. – 5-miler run at the High School

9 a.m.-2 p.m.: Ice cream social at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church

11 a.m.: Parade from Eliza St. to Grand St. to Clay St.

Noon: Chicken and ribs barbecue at American Legion Hall

Post-parade: Underground Railway House tours until 3 p.m., sponsored by Schoolcraft Historical Society; fire truck rides at Schoolcraft Elementary, sponsored by South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority

2-6 p.m.: Dance at American Legion Hall

10 p.m.: Fireworks north of Schoolcraft High School (park in school lot)

Tournament of Writers Award Winners Announced

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There were many participants and winners in the 2019 Tournament of Writers contest. They are pictured here with their citations. Photo by Bill Christiansen.

Tragedy and comedy characterized the two grand prize winners of this year’s Tournament of Writers in Schoolcraft, a local writing contest for all ages with a valid library card. Marilyn Jones of Schoolcraft received top honors for “Neatness Counts,” a recounting of a tragedy. Christine Webb of Kalamazoo received top honors for the comedic “The First (and Last) Day I Worked at McDonald’s.” The Director’s Award went to Christine Webb, a teacher who, in addition to being an award-winning author herself, mentors her students for this contest.

Awards were presented May 20 at the Schoolcraft Community Library. All entries will be published in Small Town Anthology V, to be released later this month. The book will be dedicated to Betty Braymer, a Vicksburg author who passed away earlier this year. The official book signing and launch for the book will be at R & R Weddings and Events on September 17 from 6 to 8 pm., along with author interviews and photo opportunities. Tournament authors are invited to bring in their other works. This event is free and open to the public. Light snacks and beverages will be available.

This is a family-friendly event with no alcohol served. It is sponsored by Jack Scobey Action Fund and Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. For more information about this event and next year’s Tournament, go to, contact Deb Christiansen at 269-679-5795 or email her at

Prize Winners: First Prize Junior Fiction, Maya Grossman, Number 710; First Prize Junior Poem, Allie Spencer, Sweet Willow; First Prize Teen Fiction, Kadrian Barnett, The Crowning; First Prize Teen Poem, Rachel Hostetler, YOU CAN.

First Prize Adult Fiction, Joshua Johnson, Master Bill; First Prize Adult Poem, Christine Webb, Teacher Life; First Prize Graphic Novel, Thomas Mills, Parallax; First Prize Senior Fiction, Rann Murray, The Saddest Gift; First Prize Senior Non Fiction, Kathleen Oswalt-Forsythe, A Hometown Surprise; First Prize Senior Non Fiction, Krista Ragotzy, Pomander Balls; First Prize Senior Poem, Carol Braymer, Twins; First Prize Senior Poem, Mark Stucky, Gilded Crosses?

First Prize Super Senior Fiction, Barbara Vortman, Pancake Pandemonium; The Library; First Prize Super Senior Non Fiction, Allen Parfitt, Olympia Brown Universalist Minister; First Prize Super Senior Poem, Marilyn Jones, Behind The Mask; Grand Prize, Marilyn Jones, Neatness Counts; Grand Prize, Christine Webb, The First (and Last) Day I Worked at McDonald’s; Director’s Award, Christine Webb.