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Ontonagon holds Labor Day parade

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette A car in the Ontonagon Labor Day parade thanks essential workers.

ONTONAGON — By design, this year’s Ontonagon Labor Day parade didn’t have big marching bands or throngs of people in downtown. Instead, Ontonagon celebrated Labor Day with low-key attractions to help boost the community’s spirit after several months of COVID-19 restrictions.

This year’s festival took place over only two days. Other festivities included an open mic, live music and fireworks.

In terms of participants, the 64th annual Labor Day parade was also shorter than usual. But the winding route was the parade’s longest yet. To prevent the crowds that would form a normal year, the route was changed from the usual progression down Front Street to a jaunt mainly through residential areas. The parade was also livestreamed on the festival’s Facebook page.

This year’s parade marshals were the Ontonagon High School Class of 2020. Being honored after everything the seniors had gone through meant a lot, said Luke Suomis.

“It’s nice to have to have this breath of fresh air, with everything that’s going on,” he said. “It’s really cool to watch everyone come together.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette This year’s grand marshals for the Ontonagon Labor Day parade were Ontonagon High School’s Class of 2020.

This year’s parade had classic cars, emergency vehicles, politicians and even some humorous floats.

The Norwich Country Club found a way to celebrate 2020. Their float, “The Covid Cantina,” offered a bar, polka band, and naturally, a bear riding backwards on a polka-dotted golden elephant.

“We knew this was a wicked year, and we wanted to put a distorted float out there,” said club member Tim Marczak. “And we figured a polka-dotted golden elephant would do it. The polka band gets the spirits up, so we’re spreading the cheer. And we just appreciate Ontonagon putting this on for the community.”

A few people spread out and watched from blankets set along the grass in front of Ontonagon High School.

Vanessa Pender, of Hubbard Lake, Michigan, said it was her family’s last stop on the way back home.

“It was awesome!” her daughter, Madelyn, said of the parade. “I liked the fire trucks.”

Mike Reed lives less than a quarter-mile from the high school. Beyond proximity, he also wanted to do his part to aid the community.

“This town unfortunately doesn’t have much going on anymore,” he said. “I had to do what I could to support it.”

Reed applauded the organizers for their effort in giving people something to celebrate.

“It’s easier to stay home nowadays because everybody’s kind of used to it,” he said. “But when you can social distance, then it’s OK.”

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