Saturday, September 15, 2007

Parade of Nations boasts expanded lineup

The 18th Parade of Nations will begin its largest entry at 11 a.m. Saturday. The parade begins at the Hancock Middle School, crossing the Portage Lake Lift Bridge into downtown Houghton. It finishes at Dee Stadium, where the Multicultural Festival begins at noon with food and performances.
“I think this probably will be the biggest one ever, because we have upwards of 100 more international students on campus than we have in past years,” said Betty Chavis, organizer of the parade and director of outreach and multiethnic programs at Michigan Technological University. “That’s been one of our fastest-growing populations on campus.”
This year’s parade will feature participants from 74 countries — including additions of Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Israel.

Michigan Tech Campus

“We encourage children especially to come out, because what better way to learn about history,” Chavis said.
Returning for the third year will be the Cass Tech High School Marching Band. The crowd favorites are performing four different routines along the route, as well as one inside the Dee Stadium.
Eighty-five members in brand new uniforms will represent the band, which will perform at the Orange Bowl in January.
“You know they will be strutting their stuff, as they say,” Chavis said.
MTU President Glenn Mroz and Finlandia President Philip Johnson will head the parade, joined by other dignitaries from both Houghton and Hancock. Dick Storm will serve as parade marshal.
Additionally, six floats in the parade are vying for cash prizes.
The Multicultural Food Festival will have 37 booths and artifacts, accompanied by a succession of live performances, including Native American drummers and dancers from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Outside Dee Stadium, a Detroit chef will be cooking ribs with “his secret barbecue sauce.”
The new owners of the Hunan Garden will be dishing out food, including Thai, Chinese and Japanese food.
“We’ll get a taste of the new cuisine in the area, so that’s always good,” Chavis said.
The event’s become a fixture in the area — so much so, in fact, that the Michigan Department of Transportation postponed repairs to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge so as not to interfere.
As further evidence of the parade’s growing reputation statewide, Chavis points to another guest — State Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit.
“He is not going to be politicking,” Chavis said. “He is just here because he wanted to see what the parade was like.”
For more information, go online to www.paradeofnations.mtu.edu/2007.html.

Parade of Nations boasts expanded lineup