Culture
12:39 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Michigan’s oldest consecutive Independence Day parade marks nearly eight decades

People are celebrating Independence Day today with parades in cities across the state.

Kids scrambled to grab laffy taffy. Politicians from both sides of the aisle wore tennis shoes and shook people’s hands.

Robbie McCollum watched from her backyard. She says the Hollyhock Lane Independence Day parade is the big summer event in Grand Rapids' Ottawa Hills neighborhood.

“The kids really look forward to it. Our children grew up riding in the parade. I remember when they celebrated 50 years. But I’ve lost track,” McCollum said.

The Hollyhock Lane parade, put on by the Ottawa Hills neighborhood association, marked 79 years in a row today. John Westra has ridden his unicycle in the parade for 40 of those years. Today he drove from his home in Lansing to take part.

“I used to come home every year on leave from the military just to ride in the parade. Wherever I lived I’d find my way back on the 4th of July to do this,” Westra said.

Westra has pledged to ride in it for another decade.