2018-08-19 / Insight

With 100 participants, organizing Lapeer Days parade is no small task

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


The Lapeer Lightning Marching Band always delights parade watchers with toe-tapping music and spirited performances. 
Photos by Jeff Hogan The Lapeer Lightning Marching Band always delights parade watchers with toe-tapping music and spirited performances. Photos by Jeff Hogan LAPEER — It’s not unusual for a community festival to feature a parade, but yesterday’s Lapeer Days parade was no small undertaking.

Exactly 100 groups participated in yesterday’s annual sojourn down Nepessing Street, and leading up to the big day, parade organizer Sheri Lipka was deep into planning, charting the order of floats and participants in a massive binder.

Lipka’s been in charge of the yearly parade since 2009, and has been a veteran volunteer with Lapeer Days for three decades. “I just tell them — ‘there will be a parade,’” she said. And as anyone in downtown Lapeer yesterday can attest, there certainly was.

Even with 100 participants, up several from last year, Lipka’s keen to chart the details. “You really have to pay attention to where you put them,” she said. Everything matters — who has horses? Which are military veterans? How much separation between political candidates?


Oregon Township supervisor by day, Eldon Card has dressed and performed with the Shriner Clown group for years at area events — including the Lapeer Days parade. Oregon Township supervisor by day, Eldon Card has dressed and performed with the Shriner Clown group for years at area events — including the Lapeer Days parade. Organizing a parade is not unlike plying one’s analytical mind on a logic puzzle, and once an order’s been set, then the real work begins. Staging of the parade, with its 100 participating groups, each with anywhere from a few to a few dozen people, began at 9 a.m. sharp at the intersection of Nepessing and Saginaw streets. Working eastward from there, the rear of the procession stretched into the neighborhood off Nepessing Street often referred to as ‘Birdland.’

Big groups, like the one representing autism support group Forever Friends Network, were staged at Rotary Park. Regina Starr, founder of Forever Friends Network, said the final count of participants in her group’s float was nearly 100, all wearing matching yellow shirts donated by Milnes Ford. “We were so excited,” said Starr. “We were a sea of yellow.”


The Lapeer County Young Marines are in many local parades throughout the year in Lapeer County proudly carrying a large American flag as they march and chant along the parade route. 
Photo by Jeff Hogan The Lapeer County Young Marines are in many local parades throughout the year in Lapeer County proudly carrying a large American flag as they march and chant along the parade route. Photo by Jeff Hogan This year’s parade, like each previous year, had a theme. Attendees might have noticed a smattering of superheroes, military honorifics or more, following the theme of “Who’s Your Hero?” According to Lipka, the theme was very personal to each participant. “It could have been anything,” she said. “Whoever was a hero to you. There’s some people that really put some real work into their floats.”

Lipka’s not alone in ensuring the parade marches through downtown without incident. “We’ve got close to 20 volunteers,” she said. She’s also got two pairs of announcers, tasked with identifying each float for the crowd as it meanders by. Dave Somerville and Ed LeVoir handled the announcing duties at the west stage, while Emily and Stephanie Barber announced from the main stage.

This year’s parade featured co-grand marshals, also this year’s Citizens of the Year — Betsy Felton and Wes Smith. Trophies were donated by downtown Lapeer’s Championship Trophy and Flowers by Carol provided bouquets that were awarded to beauty queen winners. Bear Graphics, based in Drummond, gifted this year’s parade banner.

The parade is always one of the highlights of the yearly festival, said Lipka, and it’s been that way for some time. “To my knowledge it’s been done as long as Lapeer Days has gone on,” she said.

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