GREENVILLE — The Danish Festival started off Friday fun with crafts, food, music and a day packed full of activities.
The people attending the 48th annual festival had plenty to choose from on the first full day of events. The downtown was full of vendors selling novelties and unique gifts, including some products special only to Michigan. There was plenty of food to keep people fueled up for a day with lots of things to do and see.
Spectators and participants young and old enjoyed the Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tale Parade. Dubbed “the Grand Dansk Parade for kids,” it gives families a chance to let their children’s creativity flow. Youths of all ages decorated bikes, trikes and themselves to march down the streets of Greenville.
“I am riding my bike in the parade with my friends,” said Emma Morano, 5, of Greenville. “My sister picked out the flags for my bike.”
Emma’s sister, Anna, 2, was unable to attend the parade because she is about to have surgery.
“Anna can’t walk in the parade,” said mother Julie Mornao. “She was born with a bilateral cleft and she is having surgery on Tuesday so we are not letting her out and about before the surgery.”
Emma pointed out her streamers and all the different decorations on the bike.
“My sister and dad helped me decorate last night,” Emma said. “The two flags Anna got are here in the basket with my flowers and my mom made these streamers on my handlebars.”
The Danish Dandies were all lined up ready to show off their flag, pompoms and baton twirling skills for everyone who was lining up to watch the parade.
“Their ages range from 3 to 12,” said Sonjia Venema of Greenville. “They started practicing in July. It is a tradition for the dandies to participate in the Fairy Tale Parade and follow behind the Danish Festival Band.”
Danish Dandy banner carrier Remington Schaefer, 7, was ready to march.
“I’m excited to carry the banner and walk with my family,” he said.
Baton twirlers Meah Schaefer, 6, and Adriana Venema, 5, have been practicing hard in the past weeks.
“I’m a Danish Dandy,” Meah declared. “I’m ready to twirl my baton.”
“I’m going to march,” Adriana said.
For Connie and Phillip Free of Greenville, the parade gives their children Brayden, 5, and Lily, 3, some family entertainment.
“We always come to see the parade.” Phillip said. “The kids enjoy it and it is nice to come out and relax as a family.”
The children were eager to get some treats.
“I like the candy,” said Brayden, smiling he held his candy collection cup.
When the parade ended, spectators didn’t have to travel far for the annual Princess and the Pea bed race. Heather Parker said each team consists of five members. The members of Team Impact from Greenville Community Church weren’t sure what was expected of them.
“It is our first time and we just decided to do this last night,” Parker said. “A group of us youth leaders thought it would be a good way to get the word out about Impact and show the kids in the area the fun we have.”
This year, four teams participated for gift card prizes. The racers started at the corner of Cass and Barry streets and raced to the corner of Cass and Franklin streets. Once the team starts the race, one team member must put on pajamas and other team members prepare the bed. As racers proceeded down the course, they stop and go around a cone and team members switch pajamas and continue on. Each team member ends up changing pajamas and riding on the bed by the time they finish the course.
Once they finish the course, they all have to eat an ice cream sandwich before time is called, according to the rules of the race.
“This is our third time participating in the race,” said Rebekah Jacobsson, 20. “Last year we won, but we can’t get the prize because we are Danish volunteers.”
Team Danish Volunteers were ready to repeat last year’s performance.
“Last year was our proudest moment,” Jacobsson said. “We beat a team of Marines.”
The volunteers did not win this year. They were beat out by Team Impact of Greenville Community Church.
“We came to win,” Parker declared.