Schoolcraft 4th of July schedule

Some parade watchers from 2017’s festivities.

The Schoolcraft community is looking forward to this year’s 4th of July celebration! Organizers have thanked those who supported event by purchasing special edition T-shirts.

The day kicks off with the Firecracker 5-Miler Run (Schoolcraft High School) and then the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast at the elementary school. A coffee truck will be at DeVries Law Office.

The 25th annual Car Show will be held in Burch Park, with music and a food truck. The Schoolcraft United Methodist Church will be hosting its annual Ice Cream Social & BBQ as well. Several more food trucks will be at the elementary school parking lot throughout the day, including Fat Mike’s BBQ, Max & More, Lazy Man BBQ, Major’s Concessions and Ibison Concessions. 

Parents can take their kids to the Ladies Library for games and for a fire truck ride through the village. The American Legion will have food, dancing,and games all day long. 

The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. and fireworks begin at dusk behind the elementary school. “We look forward to seeing everyone celebrating throughout the village. Thank you to all the people out there who will make the day fun for all. Happy 4th of July!”

Fireworks show volunteers turn over the reins

Volunteers Rod Palmer, Randey Palmer, and Chip Mongreig preparing the fireworks display for a previous year’s celebration.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

When Schoolcraft’s 4th of July fireworks show resumes next week, the volunteer team who ran it for years will be watching from a new location: the sidelines.

Randey Palmer, retired fireworks director, and his team had the privilege and responsibility of running the community event for many years. Palmer is proud of the record of his skilled team of volunteers. They were highly trained, competent, licensed and insured. They were passionate about producing a safe show, and there were no injuries to crew or crowd during the group’s tenure.

“I began helping Chip Mongrieg with the show in 2006,” says Palmer. Mongrieg had run the show since 1998 after Thorne Angell’s years of volunteerism in the early 1990s.

Palmer explained some of the rules and regulations when working with fireworks. The shells — called mortars — are stored in a licensed and inspected “C-Box” — a type of shipping container. The interior is lined with wood with no metal exposed which greatly reduces the risk of sparks.

Palmer, his brother Rodney Palmer and Mongrieg comprised the main team. Palmer said for the most part it was a small group because the work is careful and precise. They always needed to keep safety in mind.
Palmer says over the years the show grew in length and complexity. “One of the things that set our show apart was our ‘front,’ a long section of eight stations in front of the main show that involved an intense display which started the evening’s show.”

Palmer says the size of mortar used also added to the beauty of each year’s display. Mortars must fit into tubes which hold the various sizes of mortars: Schoolcraft’s technicians used tubes ranging from three inches to even eight inches, which Palmer describes as “the diameter of a volleyball.”

This size enabled the team to launch displays that were bigger and went higher.

Palmer says as the years went on, the shows became longer and included some flashier things, all set to music. The show grew to nearly 1,000 shells—which means nearly 1,000 detonations, all triggered by carefully attached wire.

Palmer says Jon Krum was responsible for all the fundraising done for the fireworks, and because the operation was all-volunteer, all the funds went into the purchase of fireworks for the show.

“I won’t miss the stress involved in the preparation and especially the night of the show. So many things can go wrong, and we always wanted everything to go just right.”

Things did go “just right” for the team over the years, which their safety record proves.

“I will miss creating this show for our community, but it was time to pass it on.”

Palmer, his brother and Mongrieg will watch this year’s show together. They are interested in what’s happening and will enjoy viewing the show without the stress and responsibility.

Collector’s corner: Correspondence fit for a queen

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Marilyn Jones

Collection? Queen Elizabeth II

How did your collection begin? “I’ve always been interested in her because we were born the same year, just a month apart. When I was a little girl, when we’d go to the movies, they would show (before the feature) ‘Eyes and Ears of the World.’ That’s where you’d get your news and usually there something featured about the little princess, and I was always very interested in her.”

Jones said she sent a congratulatory card in 1977 to the queen on occasion of her silver anniversary to the throne. Jones was surprised to receive a personalized response from the queen’s lady-in-waiting. This catapulted Jones’ interest in the queen and she soon began collecting items related to the queen. Jones followed up her silver anniversary letter with cards of congratulations for the queen’s golden, diamond and most-recent platinum jubilees. Again, every correspondence was acknowledged through the queen’s lady-in-waiting.

You’ve offered congratulations to the queen on other milestones, haven’t you? “When she became a great-grandmother, after Prince George was born, I looked for a great-grandparent card, and they’re not easy to find.”

Jones said her correspondence was acknowledged by the queen’s lady-in-waiting. Jones said she is impressed the replies are not form letters, but typewritten letters and the handwritten signature of the lady-in-waiting.

In all, Jones has six letters in response, authored by the queen’s lady-in-waiting.

What item in your collection means the most to you? “It’s certainly not a very large collection but the letters are all very special to me. They’re personalized and probably as close to royalty as I’ll ever get.”

What’s the most you paid for an item? “I subscribe to the magazine Majesty, which is put together by People magazine. It is all about royal subjects not just in England but elsewhere, too. Anyhow, there are forms at the back of the magazine where you can buy different things, and I enjoy purchasing items on occasion. I purchased a commemorative plate for her silver anniversary and years ago I purchased a decorative mug, I guess you could call it a drinking vessel, featuring a Charles and Diana with their newborn son. I think they were about $10.”

What else is in your collection? “I have quite a few books and magazines, coloring books, a miniature figurine statue, quite a few photographs, salt-and-pepper shakers and a four-piece set of wind-up figures (featuring the queen, Prince Phillip, son Charles and daughter-in-law Diana). But the letters are far and away the most unique items and they mean the most to me. It was such a thrill to open the mailbox and see a piece of mail so colorful with such interesting stamps.”

Have you ever visited England? “I have not. I would love to but I have not. That and having tea with the queen are the last two items on my bucket list. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that it will never happen.”

Your respect for the queen is obvious. “Well, we went through WWII at the same time, she got married about the same time I did, she had Charles and I had Larry, she had a daughter the same time I had a daughter … just so many parallels we share. And now we both use a cane. But if we lived near each other, I feel like we would be good friends. I think we would visit often and get along very well.”

Footnotes: Jones, 96, is a Schoolcraft resident. Her collection was showcased at the Schoolcraft Library during the month of June. Her poetry appears in the South County News.