Rotary International Parade opens Port Huron Boat Week

People in hippie costumes and Civil War uniforms lined up behind tanks and vintage cars for the Port Huron International Rotary Day parade on Wednesday evening.

People and vehicles marched down Huron Avenue as spectators seated on folding chairs and blankets cheered and sang along to the music.

The parade kicked off the city’s Boat Week. The year marks the first parade and Boat Week since 2019, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all in-person activities last year.

For attendees and spectators alike, the parade was a chance to come together and celebrate as a community after the city and country canceled most in-person events over the past year.

The Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps parade in the International Rotary Day Parade during Boat Week on Wednesday July 21, 2021 in Port Huron.

For participants, the parade is a way to celebrate their organization or promote their cause.

Wearing a maxi dress and matching hat, A Beautiful Me volunteer Heather Bearden was handing out cards promoting the organization’s Runaway Bride 5K. Young volunteers with balloon butterfly wings and orange A Beautiful Me t-shirts walked with her.

“We’ve had a tough year so it’s good to be able to get everyone together and spend some time together,” said Bearden.

For the Huron Physical Arts Center’s Starlite dance team, the parade was an opportunity for alumni to come together.

Owner and trainer Laurie Charron said those who are in college, have jobs and are parents return each year for the parade. Former student Aly Radatz said they enjoyed talking about their favorite memories and routines as they waited in their red, black and white uniforms for the parade to begin.

Wearing a long blonde wig, Blue Water Recovery and Outreach Center executive director Patrick Patterson walked in the parade with 40 other BWROC members. The organization’s tank featured miniature drums and Beatles music.

“It sounds human,” he said. “When you smile you feel like a better person and it’s just great to celebrate life.”

Spectators line Huron Avenue to watch the International Rotary Day parade during Boat Week Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Port Huron.

Denni Lesinski, from Fort Gratiot, came with her husband to see the parade.

“Basically it feels good,” she said. “It feels more like a celebration than usual. It’s still fun, but this year feels like a celebration where we came from, leaving it all behind.”

Lesinski said they had come to at least the last seven parades to see their grandchildren in the North Port Huron Marching Band. She said she still enjoys seeing the group even though her grandchildren are no longer in it, and thinks it’s important to support local events.

Other spectators also knew people in the parade or were there themselves once. Erin and Andrew Davis, who live in Fort Gratiot, were there with their child to see the Starlite dance team from the Huron Physical Arts Center. Erin Davis’s sister is on the dance team and she paraded with the Port Huron High School Marching Band when she was younger.

A child in a Lego Batman costume gives a thumbs up before taking part in the Rotary International Day parade during Boat Week on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Port Huron.

They said the parade was all about making memories.

Taylor Winters, who watched the parade with her husband and four children, said she and her children had walked with the Kimball Calvary Gospel Church gospel team and wanted to do it again next year.

“We missed this last year,” she said. “We missed seeing family and friends.”

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

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