July 01, 2014 | 01:06 PMBLOOMFIELD — Friday’s annual Fourth of July parade is expected to begin the same way it has for the past several years, with a blast from village president Ken Monroe’s replica of a Civil War-era cannon.
It’s tradition that several area emergency services departments, civic groups, local businesses and children garbed in red, white and blue will march, drive or ride on cars, trucks, bikes, horses in one of the area’s largest parades. They will line up from the beach on Orchid and North Lakeshore drives, take North Lakeshore to Clover Road, then finish at the town/village hall.
Monroe said the parade, which he helped start, has been going on for 20 years. But recently, he made an open call for some new blood. The event begins at noon.
He’s looking for someone to take over organizing the parade, a task which has fallen on Monroe’s shoulders.
“It doesn’t have to be one person, either,” he said. “If we could get two or three people who are really interested … it would bring new blood, new ideas.”
Being the parade organizer consists mainly of just contacting people, asking them to participate.
But there are a lot of people, including senators, representatives, Lions Clubs, garden clubs, churches, and so on.
“We really wanted to have some bands in it this year, but we couldn’t get any,” said Monroe.
It’s something he’s announced before, but that call has gone unanswered.
“I’d just like to have someone involved in doing the parade who has more time,” he said.
When asked what would happen if he doesn’t find someone, Monroe said he’d still do it. “Well, I’d have to. It’s just something that should be done. I think it’s great for the community.”
But will he still fire the cannon?
“If whoever organizes the parade wishes, sure, I’ll do it.”
The parade’s origin goes back to April 1994. Monroe said it started with a visit from Louise Schwandt, of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
She asked if he could help organize a dedication ceremony for a VFW monument at Veterans Park, near the Pell Lake Post Office.
Monroe said he suggested having a parade, and that VFW wait to dedicate the monument until July 4.
“Then we could march the parade up to where the monument is,” he said, and build a larger crowd for the event.
It was an idea that Monroe hatched with George Hinske, a well-known community member who died in May 2004.
“Actually, Dad and Ken were the two who came up with the idea over a morning coffee,” said Georgia Hinske-West, George’s oldest daughter, in a June 24 email. “I remember him asking me later that day if I thought it was a great idea.”
Monroe guessed between 40 and 50 gathered for the first parade. Schwandt, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and members of a Ukrainian social group spoke at the dedication.
It wasn’t just a parade. Monroe said after the dedication, people gathered at the town hall for food and refreshments.
Then there were fireworks.
Hinske-West said the event was bigger than expected.
“Most people assumed it would be a small parade with small fireworks at night. … All the spectators who were lined up to see it were commenting on how amazed they were, and the smiles on everyone’s faces were priceless,” she said. “Our skeptics turned into fans.”
Hinske-West said her father bought the fireworks for the July 4 festivities that inaugural year “with his personal money,” and Monroe obtained the necessary permit for the show.
Monroe said they thought it would be a one-time thing.
“I just thought it would be great to have a parade, but no one really was thinking that the parade would be every year, honestly. … The following year, I had people calling me about it. They thought it was nice. Then, it just continued from there. We had it every year after that.”
Hinske-West said the town of Bloomfield — there was no village until the end of 2011 — took over the event “I believe around the fourth year, and made Dad parade marshal for that year.”
She said George loved the parade and the community. “My dad often made it very clear to me what he enjoyed the most about the parade. He said, ‘I love celebrating our country’s freedom and honoring my fellow servicemen for their sacrifice, but most of all, it’s seeing all of our friends and neighbors smiling, laughing and celebrating together. They are my extended family.’”
George and his two daughters — Hinske-West and Alexandra Livesey — also judged the parade float and bicycle contests. “Dad and I bought the prizes for the first few years,” said Georgia.
The parade experience stuck with Georgia, who was 23 when the first Fourth of July parade took place. She remained a part of the Bloomfield parade until she moved away in 2011.
“My first year not being in Pell Lake for the Fourth of July was the hardest. I realized what a tradition it has become for our family. I have to admit I cried.”
But in 2007, Hinske-West took the Pell Lake July 4 experience to Orlando, Fla. She was a choreographer for the Walt Disney Christmas parade.
“Safe to say that Ken Monroe and my dad inspired me.”