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Tradition lives on at 80th Hollyhock 4th of July Parade


Patrick Center
July 7, 2014 | WGVU   “It’s kind of hokey. There are kids on bikes and kids that make floats on their wagons.”

Hollyhock Parade organizers Ned Zimmerman and Diane Milanowski live its history.

“The first parade in 1934 ended abruptly when neighbors set off these firecrackers and someone called the police. The police came and asked, ‘Where’s your permit?’ They didn’t have it so the parade ended.”

“We line up at 8 o’clock in the morning, Calvin and Alexander Street we march at 8:30. We’re usually finished by about 9:15 and shortly after that the ceremonies start.”

“In 1938 was the first year they decided let’s have Uncle Sam march in the parade and they’ve always used a student who lives in the neighborhood.”

Miss Liberty was later added and over the 75-years of this tradition it’s produced two marriages. This year’s student appointees are Chris Vruinsma and Hannah Kelly.

“It’s really special. My family’ been a part of this parade for a really long time. So to be able to take part in it is really, really fun.”

“We live in the house where the parade started,” explains Karen Heit. “There’s a picture we’re looking for that we’ve seen with President Ford in our backyard that the city or someone has. So, if you ever see it we’d like to have a picture of the president in our yard. Not everybody has that.”

Perched atop their front stoop along Giddings Avenue, Pat and Gil Davis take it all in.

“We’ve watched 42 out of 80. It reminds you of what to be grateful for. And it’s homemade. It’s entirely homemade and it continues to be homemade. And we owe it all to the man who lived several doors down during the depression who decided the world needed a pick-me-up.”

Back then, the parade started in the alley behind what is now their home. It was lined with glorious hollyhocks…and that’s where the parade gets its name.

“It has the name Hollyhock Lane because we had 100’s of hollyhocks. However, 80 years later the shade trees came and no hollyhocks.”

The name and tradition lives on.

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