Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fourth of July Parade

The 4th of July is a big holiday in Leland. Our streets are full of residents and summer people, although the split may be 50/50 between residents watching in the parade and residents actually in the parade. My family has been dedicated parade watchers, passing up opportunities to ride bikes, be a piece of the baguette, support candidates and causes, etc., although brother Chris has been known to play his french horn in the one-rehearsal-only marching band.

For me, the big drama was the Eve of the Fourth fireworks. As long as I can remember the fireworks have been held on the Lake Michigan beach, sponsored by the Leland Community Improvement Association. A few days before this year's display, Leland's fire chief, Mike Fandel, met with the pyrotechnic crew at the site and determined that the rising water and late dredging had left us with too little beach to safely host a fireworks display. Chief Fandel offered us an alternate location, at Hancock Park, and presented us with a plan for crowd control and how they would station the fire crew to simultaneously monitor the fireworks dsplay and be ready in case of a need elsewhere in the township.

It was fun to be called to a special town board meeting to "save the fireworks" by approving the new location. It was not so much fun to hear feedback from people who feared that the soccer fields would be ruined, the park would be trashed, or that the parking would become unmanageable.

In the end, the fireworks went off without a hitch. I heard good feedback about the fire department's safety enforcement and event management. The new location, on a hill, meant that the display was visible from many more parts of the township, including most of the north lake , East Leland, and even my house, over the tops of the trees. Many village residents skipped going out to the field and simply watched from their yards, streets, or rooftops. People remarked that it was much more of a family event, instead of the beach front bacchanalia that we had seen in recent years.

NOTE: I've mentioned fireworks enough that the web crawlers are sure to think that it is appropriate for this blog to host home fireworks advertising. In order to put on a fireworks display in Leland Township, you must get special permission from the town board, which involves obtaining a large insurance policy and an event plan approved by the fire chief, you are likely to be ticketed, fined, or worse.

After the fireworks drama, it was nice to have a laid back day in Leland, watching the parade and cooking hot dogs. I tried to get one shot of each entry in the parade, but I ran out of memory just before The Leland Fire Department made their customary second appearance, with some members running around the back streets to not only head up the parade, but to also bring up the rear. Chief Fandel ended up on top of the antique engine, using a not so spry water shooter to sprinkle the kids in the crowd.

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