I love a parade! Santaland
marks its 55th in style
The Santaland Parade is for the young, and the young at heart.
Among the young were three friends, all 11-year-old sixth-graders at Cooper Upper Elementary School in Livonia, eagerly awaiting the 10 a.m. start of the parade Saturday.
“Everybody here gets to show off their talent. They can entertain us,” said Gabe Cerda, with friends Grant Selover and Timmy Berger along the parade route on Middlebelt.
Gabe has an older sister who marched with the Livonia Franklin High Marching Band. “I’m proud of her,” he said.
Added Grant, “It’s just sort of cool that people are in the parade.” His sister marched as a Brownie Girl Scout.
Timmy said, “It’s cool,” and picked the police cars as his favorite. “I like the sirens, I guess,” he said.
They were accompanied by Timmy’s mom, Jennifer Berger of Westland, and her mother-in-law, Jo Berger of Garden City, in a group of about 10, family and friends, who gathered with many others to watch the 55th annual Santaland Parade Saturday, Nov. 28.
“It’s a great parade,” said Jennifer Berger. “The kids love it.” Her mother-in-law added, “I was so excited I got to come this year.”
She’s usually at work at the L’Esprit Academy beautiful school at parade time.
Families lined the parade route along Middlebelt and Ford roads, eager for the floats, fire trucks, motorcycles, marching bands, clowns and much more to appear. Santa Claus marked the parade conclusion and was greeted with cheers.
Prior to the parade, participants gathered in the Garden City High School parking lot, the staging area. Said Rob McLachan, president of the Garden City Rotary Club, “We have a vehicle in the parade. We want to increase our visibility. We try to participate in as many community activities as we can.”
Romulus resident McLachan noted this is the Garden City Rotary’s 75th anniversary. On Saturday, Rotarians passed out candy to kids at the Santaland Parade.
“I find them to be a very fun, generous group of people,” McLachan said of the club he’s been in about three years. “I’m proud to be a member.”
Nearby were Garden City Kiwanis members with their float. “I love that float,” said Kiwanian Beverly Prochnow, a Canton resident. “The guys did a really nice job with it.”
She was eager for the parade to begin. “You don’t even feel the cold after awhile,” Prochnow said.
About half a dozen Kiwanians built the float, stored at Barson’s Greenhouse. The Kiwanians dressed as clowns for the parade, courtesy of a member who made costumes.
“We’re always clowning around anyway,” said Prochnow. Added Kiwanian Sheila Sulewski of Dearborn of the parade, “It gets better every year.”
Sulewski, senior activities coordinator for Garden City’s Maplewood Center, has been in Kiwanis about three years and joined at her stepson’s urging. “It was the Christmas party that drew me in,” she recalled as she waiting for parade time. “We can be clowns today. It’s awesome. We just have a lot of fun with it. It’s just really exciting. The kids’ faces are just so awesome.”
Kiwanians gave local children beaded necklaces at the parade, and came in the lineup shortly before Santa. Cole Strong of the North Pole was with two live reindeer who accompanied Santa that day, Clarice, Rudolph’s girlfriend, and Prancer.
“We flew,” Strong said of the reindeer’s arrival in Garden City. “Santa puts magic dust on them,” and children are gently told not to touch the reindeer.
“They didn’t think they were real,” Strong said of children’s reaction. “We had to set them straight.”
The reindeer live at Carousel Acres in South Lyon in warmer weather “when they’re not at the North Pole,” he noted. The reindeer have a GPS tracker, and don’t get lost.
“Santa knows,” Strong said of the reindeer whereabouts. “He always knows.”
The parade route included a left turn from Middlebelt onto Ford Road, which the Redford Township Unicycle Club and others handled with aplomb. Marching bands, including Garden City High, got chilly toes tapping with their music.
The Garden City Cafe provided hot chocolate free of charge to many parade goers, who were grateful. The Relay for Life of Garden City truck, which showcases the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser, advertised the May 21 upcoming event date.
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