Floating down main street Ontonagon
ONTONAGON — Rain, shine or fire, the Ontonagon Labor Day parade must always go on.
Despite heavy rain Sunday afternoon, the parade was met with enthusiasm, packed streets and a record number of floats. All were out to celebrate the Village’s 175th birthday and 62nd festival.
“You can’t miss the parade,” said Mavis Flegle, sitting snugly under her umbrella in the same spot she always does. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years, I’m not going to not come up now.”
Flegle makes the trip every year to the town both her parents grew up in.
“Nothing can really put a damper on the hooper spirit when we get up here, and it’s such a tradition,” said Village President Ken Waldrop, recalling when the parade was held while building fires in the downtown were still being put out by firefighters.
“Everyone’s here and they’re bringing their umbrellas.”
The rest of the weekend’s activities dealt with similar showers but events went on as planned and the storm gradually cleared as the parade marched on.
Al Meinberg and Cheryl Holloway were watching from under an overhang on the main street.
“When you’re in the U.P., you can expect anything,” Meinberg said.
For Holloway, she was enjoying her first time at the Labor Day parade but Meinberg recalled the time a parachuter hit a power line coming into town right in front of him. The parachuter escaped with mild burns, he said.
The parade floats were extravagant, in keeping with Ontonagon tradition. Representatives from SynSel, the anticipated biofuel plant, led the way as parade marshal.
The winner of the youth division was the float “United We Stand.” The commercial division win went to “Margaritaville,” from Henry’s Inn in Rockland and the Bauer Family and Friend’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” took first place in the open division.