My mom Ginger was taken from us on her 65th birthday in 2012, but she left a lifetime of such fun and wonderful memories behind for, not only our family, but many families in the area. She was known for her child-like spirit and imagination and will be remembered by many as "The Parade Lady." She was forever creating new parades and events and finding ways to give back to her community, that she loved so dearly!
She started the nighttime parade for my father, who always wanted a torch parade. The first year it was not very well attended. Mom and I always disagreed about how many people came the first year, and I'd love nothing more than to have photos to know for sure, but she thought there were over 100 people. I recall more like 20, including the spectators.
That first parade we had to use mom's huge tan Buick to block off the street to keep traffic off Center street. I can't help but laugh just at the thought of it! I think mom had a miscommunication with the police or something. At any rate, it was very "small town" and very funny!
The parade started at Everyday People Cafe and made it to about the Post Office before it just sort of dissipated to nothing. It wasn't big, but it was fun, so the next year it got a little bigger and then it got even bigger the following years. Now we typically have several hundred paraders and thousands and thousands of spectators.
Crowd estimates for 2014 ranged from 4000-6000 people. In 2015, I expect to see nearly 10,000 people. The parade is always the last Saturday before Halloween, but in 2015 it falls ON Halloween and that's a big deal!
Mom was delighted to see the event grow over the years. Halloween was her very favorite time of the year and she was thrilled to see it increase business in town. That was always a part of her end goal. She said she started the kids parade because it was the slowest weekend in town when she and my dad were partners in Saugatuck Drug Store. It was a totally different kind of ghost town!
She would be blown away if she could see it now! Maybe she does... I could swear she controls the weather on parade day!