HOUGHTON - With the theme of "Global Variation in One Location," the 24th Parade of Nations takes place Saturday, and although the number of countries represented fluctuates, this year Australia joins the festivities for the first time.
Maryann Wilcox, parade committee member and elementary school parade poster project coordinator, said although relatively new, that project is popular.
"This is the third year," she said.
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Students dance down Houghton’s Shelden Avenue during the 2011 Parade of Nations. The annual parade, followed by the multicultural festival at Dee Stadium, is scheduled for Saturday.
Wilcox said the poster project is sponsored by Michigan Technological University Enrollment Services and Student Services. Two schools are chosen each year to make posters and this year the schools are Thomas R. Davis Elementary School in Dollar Bay, and Lake Linden-Hubbell Elementary School.
The purpose of the poster project is to get children and their parents involved with the Parade of Nations and multicultural festival.
"We're trying to involve the entire community," she said. "It's been working."
The posters are hung in Dee Stadium, where the multicultural festival will take place after the parade, Wilcox said.
Other than representing the Parade of Nations and multicultural festival, Wilcox said there are no restrictions on what the posters should look like or what size they should be.
"I tell them the sky's the limit," she said.
Bob Wenc, chairman for booths at the multicultural festival, said the parade will have 69 countries represented this year. It will start in front of Finlandia University's Quincy Green on Quincy Street, then travel across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Shelden Avenue in Houghton. Marchers will turn down Isle Royale Street and head to the Dee Stadium.
Because Houghton has been so helpful with the event over the years, Wenc said City Manager Scott MacInnes will be the parade marshal this year.
At the Dee, Wenc said events will be from noon to 3 p.m. There will be 41 booths with food and other items.
"We have 17 different cuisines," he said.
Wenc said the Parade of Nations multicultural festival has more food providers than larger such events around the country.
"We beat St. Louis," he said.
For the first time at the multicultural festival, Wenc said Turkey will have a food booth. Bangladesh will be represented, also.
"You don't see Bangladesh too many places," he said.
At the Dee, Wenc said master of ceremonies Mark Wilcox will be awarding more than 20 gift certificates to people attending the multicultural festival. There will be performances of dance and music in the Dee, Wenc said.
Wenc said sponsors of the PON and multicultural festival keep the event going each year. This year, they provided more than $9,000 in cash, gifts or in-kind service.
"Without them, this couldn't happen," he said.
The parade and multicultural festival will involve Michigan Tech, Finlandia University, the governments of Hancock and Houghton, and many local businesses, Wenc said. It's hoped the event will eventually become regional.
"We are trying to figure out ways to go beyond Houghton," he said.