Downtown 4th of July parade celebrates both America and Ann Arbor
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
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It’s a parade both like and unlike any other — exactly the way Ann Arbor residents want it to be.
The people were dressed in Red, White and Blue clothing (guilty), flags were waved by young and old alike and patriotic bunting was liberally draped across the floats at the 23rd annual Ann Arbor Jaycees Fourth of July Parade . But as much as the celebration was about America, it also was a uniquely Ann Arbor event.
“The event is really for Ann Arborites and it shows throughout the parade.”
Rutila has been in Ann Arbor since 1970, but it isn’t just the old “townies” who appreciate the local flare of the parade.
“It’s obviously a parade celebrating our independence, but it also gives people to see their neighbors and the organizations they’re involved in,” Antonio Placanica, who just moved to Ann Arbor last year, said as a stage combat troupe passed by twirling fire and fighting with swords.
“There is such an amazing variety of organizations here that it’s just great to come out and see them all and learn about everything that happens right here in Ann Arbor.”
For children like 4-year-old Arthur Sherwood, the success of the parade is predicated less on the amount of patriotic fervor it inspires and more on the amount of candy they are able to collect.
Big floats and flashy displays are replaced by the “Halloween in July” atmosphere in which nearly every participant has at least a few Tootsie Rolls to pass out.
Ann Arbor residents certainly make sure to turn out for the holiday celebration as well. Big crowds lined the streets for the parade, with the largest concentrations at the corner of South State and Liberty streets, as well as along Main Street at the end of the parade route. At some points the rows were seven or eight people deep along the sidewalks.
Parade chair Mary Jo Knitter said the Jaycees who put on the parade have been working since January to make sure it all runs smoothly.
“It’s really worth it because it’s obvious that the people really appreciate the work that goes into it,” she said.
“The excitement that both the participants and the spectators bring is great. Everyone is just so happy to be here.”
In true Ann Arbor fashion, right in front of the Fife and Drum Corps that closes the parade walked a man with an over-sized paper mache Bo Schembechler head.
“He’s kind of our Santa Clause at the end of the parade,” Knitter said. “He wraps it all up for us.”
Ann Arbor. Bo Schembechler. America. Happy 4th of July.
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2