2012-06-23 / Top News

Lilac Parade Salutes War of 1812 Bicentennial

By Andrew Marlan


The Lilac Queen and princess pose with bright smiles before the Grand Parade with the queen’s court on both sides. The girls are (from left) Diana Dupre, Dana Roguska, Ava Sehoyan, Zhané Nash, Hailey Armstrong, and Kyra Kolatski. The Lilac Queen and princess pose with bright smiles before the Grand Parade with the queen’s court on both sides. The girls are (from left) Diana Dupre, Dana Roguska, Ava Sehoyan, Zhané Nash, Hailey Armstrong, and Kyra Kolatski. Hundreds of people lined the streets between Mission Point Resort and the library to see the 60 floats, bands, and performers recognizing the bicentennial of the War of 1812 in this year’s Lilac Festival Grand Parade Sunday, June 17. Horses were draped with American flags and dressed as cannons and floats were built to look like various historical sites on Mackinac Island, like British Landing, that played a role during the war.

The parade line-up began at 3:30 p.m. at Mission Point Resort and the participants could not help but admire each other’s colorful pieces. Floats, carriages, marching bands, and beauty queens gathered near the shoreline. Pickle, hot dog, Mackinac fudge, and butterfly costumes were put on and everyone had candy to throw. The most attention was received by the trick ponies of Dan Wallen, Donna Marie, and Tracy Davis, which provided pre-parade entertainment by hopping and bowing.


Tony Miron, wisdom keeper for the Mackinac Band, wearing a newly skinned wolf and leading the Grand Parade with the other Native American storytellers and dancers who were chosen as this year’s grand marshals. Tony Miron, wisdom keeper for the Mackinac Band, wearing a newly skinned wolf and leading the Grand Parade with the other Native American storytellers and dancers who were chosen as this year’s grand marshals. It was a sunny, warm afternoon on Mackinac Island and the Northern Michigan Native American wisdom keepers, the Grand Marshals that led this year’s parade, said the clear skies following a nighttime storm symbolized the settling of Indian spirits.

Human bones were found at several excavation sites on the Island last winter and, according to the wisdom keepers, spirits were leaked into the air and wanted to be back at rest.


Dan Wallen’s Wild West Show was awarded the Best Equestrian Group for entertaining the crowds with three trick ponies that bowed and hopped their way down Main Street. Members of the group are (from left) Dan Wallen, Donna Marie, and Tracy Davis. Dan Wallen’s Wild West Show was awarded the Best Equestrian Group for entertaining the crowds with three trick ponies that bowed and hopped their way down Main Street. Members of the group are (from left) Dan Wallen, Donna Marie, and Tracy Davis. “When the burial grounds were dug into, spirits leaked into the air,” said wisdom keeper Tony Miron. “It’s a beautiful day because the wandering spirits saw the presence of Indians from this Island and were able to rest.”

Wisdom keepers, storytellers, and dancers led the parade. The Native Americans wanted their culture and their history, directly tied to Mackinac Island, to be shared with the public. Many people don’t realize many Indians that live on reservations in Michigan, Mr. Miron said, or that Mackinac Island is the home of his ancestors. The dancers and drummers following the wisdom keepers wore traditional costumes made of animal skins, beads, and feathers. They twirled wooden sticks and waved a string of hoops for creative and spiritual expression.


Wings of Mackinac butterfly house staff are dressed as Native Americans with butterfly wings on their backs. The parade entry won the Most Creative award. Participants are (from left) Christine Wagner, Rachelle Blachat, Alana Christopher, Amber Holter, and Kelsey Martin. Wings of Mackinac butterfly house staff are dressed as Native Americans with butterfly wings on their backs. The parade entry won the Most Creative award. Participants are (from left) Christine Wagner, Rachelle Blachat, Alana Christopher, Amber Holter, and Kelsey Martin. “I’ve had this costume for 20 years,” Mr. Miron said, pointing at his furry ensemble with a green staff carved in the shape of a snake. “I just got this wolf headpiece especially for the parade. The eyes of the wolf light up whenever I tell stories.”

The dancers were accompanied with melodies from flautist “Silver Fox” Lopez, who played traditional Indian tunes that are also tied to specific stories, dances, and costumes. Mr. Lopez was the first of many musicians who played in the parade.

Scottish bands comprised of bagpipes, bass drums, Highland dancers and a Scottish flag corps marched and danced down Main Street, filling the Island air with its Scottish culture. The bass drummers carried soft mallets that swung from strings to produce a unique, vibrant sound when slammed against the drumhead. The choreography and precision within the drum line was captivating and the enthusiasm that the dancers expressed brightened the parade and was a powerful sound to have between floats.

Festival queens and their courts arrived from Elk Rapids, Otsego County, the Sugar Festival, Cherry Festival, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Gaylord Alpenfest, hosted by Lilac Festival Queen Zhané Nash and her court and Lilac Princess Ava Sehoyan. The visiting royalty rode in carriages or walked the parade route wearing beautiful smiles and waving their hands.

“We love meeting the other queens and courts,” said Ashley Donnelley, the 2012 Miss Cheboygan. “Festivals and parades are a way for us to network and see the beauty in each other’s towns.”

Summer employees Lauren Pellegrino, Melissa Jaeger, Josh Carlson, and Frank Footer, from Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Restaurant and Yankee Rebel Tavern, constructed an entertaining float that honored Ambrose R. Davenport, “The Yankee Rebel” who fought in the was. The float displayed a British Redcoat next to Ambrose Davenport imprisoning an American soldier in the British stockade. Ambrose Davenport was a young man who enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation from a school in Virginia. He was assigned to Fort Mackinac and was present when Americans received Fort Mackinac from the British in 1796. By 1812, many Islanders, including Mr. Davenport, became prisoners of the war and declined to answer the request of British Captain Charles Roberts to swear allegiance to the Crown. Mr. Davenport returned to his wife and six children in 1815 and turned to farming in an area now known as Hubbard’s Annex. Steve and Patti Ann Moskwa, the owners of Yankee Rebel Tavern, wanted to honor Mr. Davenport for inspiring them and refusing to swear allegiance to the British forces.

The “Big Noise,” also known as the Scottville Clown Band, concluded the parade in bright costumes. The Clown Band tours Michigan and has been the traditional closer for the Lilac Festival Grand Parade for a number of years. the Clown Band has helped fund, build, and maintain the Scottville band shell and the Museum of Music at White Pine Village. They also fund the annual Raymond J. Schulte and George F. Wilson scholarship at West Shore Community College and fund the thousands of dollars that go into the Bud Simms Memorial Grant and other scholarships for education in music and performing arts. Their mission is to spread and share the love for music by playing upbeat melodies. They hope to inspire children watching the parade to start playing a musical instrument and get involved with musical programs.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2012-06-23 digital edition