CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Main Street in Eaton Rapids was packed Memorial Day as Michigan's Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Museum hosted its annual Memorial Day parade.
Last year's parade was canceled due to COVID-19.
Motor bikes drove up and down the street as the crowd awaited the start of the parade just after 11 a.m.
To be back, "feels wonderful," said spectator Tina Barrett. "Happy Memorial Day, everyone!"
For some, like Allison Cozzie and Abraham Strait, this parade was a long-awaited reunion.
"Well we came down for the Eaton Rapids Memorial Day parade and an extra blessing is these two have been best buddies since kindergarten for five years," said Amy Cozzie, Allison's mother, "and with the pandemic, this is the first time they've got to see each other face-to-face through this whole thing. So, what an absolute blessing for Memorial Day that they got to see each other down here."
For others, like 95-year-old Betty Boatman, it was a continuation of a 70-year tradition.
"I come every year to this parade and bring my whole family and we have a good time. Every Memorial Day we're right at the same spot," Boatman said.
Kyle Hein, a former officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, was in today's parade with his non-profit Mi Heroes Haven.
"We're located here in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, and our vision is to cater to the needs of veterans, first responders, and also we cater to our nurses, OR docs, ER staff that are struggling with suicide ideation, and post-traumatic stress," he said. "So, we offer a four-day retreat, which is our 'Get Back Up' program, which we take them on a holistic experience to help navigate the struggles they may have experienced from their time in service. We know a lot of people especially post-pandemic in the medical field, our vets, first responders are struggling with PTS and suicide ideation, and we provide a real-life solution to a very big problem. We're here to help."
Color guards, girl scouts, veterans, and a marching band could all be found at Monday's parade.
After the parade wrapped up, families dispersed for lunch and to continue their holiday celebrations.
For more information on Mi Heroes Haven, click here.
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