BELDING — As local businesses began to close their doors for the holiday weekend Friday night, downtown Belding was open and alive with carnival rides, bands and parades for the 107th annual Belding Labor Day Celebration.
With a carnival midway stationed in the Covered Village Mall parking lot along Bridge Street, patrons of all ages slowly began filtering in for day one of the four-day festival with exciting rides, tasty food and two parades to enjoy.
For five-year-old Landon Nummer, the entire festival was put on for him — at least that is what he believed, being that it was his birthday.
“He’s been very excited all day, patiently waiting for this all day,” his mother, Ann Nummer of Belding, said. “Having it on his birthday is just awesome. He thinks the festival is for his birthday every year. He sees the rides when we drive by and he knows his birthday is coming. It’s cute, as he thinks everything has been planned for him.”
For Belding residents Aurora Bicari and Brandon Starkweather, the Labor Day festival is a chance to celebrate the day the two first met and began dating — eight years ago at the very same festival.
“We actually met here eight years ago,” Starkweather said. “We came with friends who set us up on a date and we’ve been dating ever since.”
The couple enjoyed several rides Friday with Bicari’s three-year-old nephew, Tyler Edmonds, as the couple’s two-year-old son, Justin Starkweather, was too young for and frightened of the rides.
“This is the first time he’s been big enough to enjoy the rides,” Bicari said of Tyler.
When Bicari asked Tyler if he had been having fun, he quickly pointed to and began walking toward his next ride of choice.
“It looks like he’s having fun,” she said with a laugh. “But we always have fun riding the rides getting elephant ears to eat. We come back here to relive it all.”
As the sun began to set the crowd continued to grow as people lined up along Bridge Street awaiting the Classic Car Cruise and Twilight Parade.
The Classic Car Cruise featured several dozen cars dating back decades in build, with Miss Belding 2012 Kendra Wekenman and Miss Belding first runner-up Haily Willingham ahead of the pack seated on an orange 1971 Mercury Cougar.
The cars traveled east on Ellis Street before turning south onto Bridge Street where they passed the midway and spectators lining the streets.
After the Classic Car Cruise, the seventh annual Twilight Parade lit up downtown Belding as firetrucks and other emergency vehicles traveled a similar route, flashing their lights.
The 2012 Belding Labor Day Celebration continues through Monday, with events scheduled throughout the holiday weekend.