GREENVILLE — There are few things that seem so quintessentially American as to hold their own when stacked alongside icons like mother, apple pie and Saturday night dances at the Grange Hall. Country and Western songs about pickup trucks, maybe; politicians kissing babies; red, white and blue bunting strung over the pavilion where a brass band plays — slightly out of tune — on an Independence Day afternoon.
But perhaps chief in this pantheon of Americana is the parade. Parades have been a part of life in these United States since Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for president, and no doubt long before.
This tradition lit up the streets of Greenville Saturday morning when all manner of floats, bands, clowns and Shriners turned out in force to celebrate the city’s Danish heritage.
This year’s Danish Festival Grand Dansk Parade saw the return of many longtime favorite entries, along with several new offerings from within the city and surrounding communities.
Returning this year was the Greenville High School marching band. The band again lived up to its reputation as one of the area’s best. With its tight, well-rehearsed marching and music, the band elicited enthusiastic cheers along the entire parade route.
Belding High School’s band also put in an appearance, both looking and sounding great. Both schools’ flag teams also presented well-choreographed routines.
Grand Dansk Parade Gallery
A Danish Festival staple, the Shriners were back to delight paradegoers with their mini-car precision driving. Another longtime favorite, the Scottville Clown Band, also was on hand to perform several marching medleys of patriotic tunes. The Clown Band also took the main Danish Fest stage for a performance following the parade.
Five-year-old Adriana Brooks, in town visiting her grandmother for the festival, said she was most impressed with the clowns.
“I like the ones that throw candy best,” said Adriana.
Among the overall crowd pleasing floats was an offering from a local haunted house, complete with characters inspired by Michael Jackson’s 1980’s “Thriller” video. Ghouls, ghosts and zombies performed synchronized dance moves from the video.
Several live bands manned floats along the parade route, some performing spiritual music, others offering renditions of popular radio hits.
Groups like the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and several churches also fielded floats, marchers and musical groups throughout the parade. Several elementary school and private academies also put in an appearance.
Howard City resident Sandy Clark said she “got a kick” out of the marching bands, adding that Greenville High School always brings something special to the table in this regard.
“I was in marching band back in school,” Clark said. “There’s something about that kind of music that always just kind of gets to me. It gets my blood pumping.”
Another crowd favorite was a float featuring a bevy of comic book superheroes including Spiderman, Thor, Batman, the Hulk and other characters from both the Marvel and DC Comics universe.
This combination of old standbys and new additions gave this year’s Danish Fest parade a shine all its own and earned it an honored place in that long history of parades that have defined for time out of mind what an American celebration should be.