The St. Joseph High School Marching Band kicked off the parade at 1:00 on Main St; floats from the surrounding communities followed, including Berrien Springs' Beatles-themed float playing "Yellow Submarine".
The Blossomtime Festival is a week of events celebrating the area, and the highlight is the Saturday parade. This parade includes 23 different communities in Southwest Michigan! Each community brings a different energy to the parade, uniting in a celebration that kicks off the summer. This year, there were floats, marching bands, area organizations, vets, police cars, and more. There were estimated to be 200,000 spectators! A spectacular show, it lasted for 2 hours, starting in St. Joseph and tracing Main St. through Benton Harbor.
Each community has a float, a band, and a court of royalty. From the courts, a reigning Blossomtime king and queen are selected. The first queen, Catherine Burrell, was selected in 1924. This year, Ashley Sipla of Coloma was crowned. There's also a float that carries the "Buds"- aspiring kings and queens!
The Blossomtime Festival has a huge historical component to the area, too. Orchard tours were a huge draw to the area, inspiring many Chicago residents to hop the ferry. It was a priority for many businesses in the area, and they took a proactive role in the early tourism. The Blossomtime parade traces back to 1923, when the Southwest Michigan community came together to celebrate the beginning of the fruit season by offering a central event for the residents and visitors. Originally, a truck traveled around Chicago’s Loop advertising the parade and “blossom lanes” for spectacular travel.
Eden Springs Park at the House of David had a float celebrating their historic baseball games, and the ongoing restoration project. You can read about the volunteer overhaul here.
The Benton Harbor Tigers were awesome; you can find a video of them here on our YouTube channel.
The Blossomtime Festival happens in early May each year; the parade is the first Saturday of May. We hope to see you for 2017!
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