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Around The Grange
Michigan Grange Parade Honors Rural Life

By Battle Creek Enquirer, MI (7/3/10)

  JULY 3, 2010 --

For the last 26 years, the Fourth of July Home Grange Parade has been a community event showcasing rural life in Calhoun County, Michigan.

Roland Winter, of Marshall, has been a Grange member for almost 70 years.

"It started out small and just kept growing," Winter said.

The mile-long parade features various churches, fire departments, tractors, family floats, horse-drawn carts and carriages and "lots of kids on bikes and kids with pets," Winter said.

After the parade, free hot dogs and soda are served at the Grange Hall.

Last year's crowd consumed around 600 hot dogs and 500 cans of soda, and Winter estimated that about 500 people showed up.

"Not everyone from the parade comes for the hotdogs, so there were definitely more than that (at the parade)," Winter said.

Each year the Grange selects a Grand Marshal for the parade -- someone whom the Grange members want to honor for contributions to the organization.

This year's Grand Marshal is Merilynn Watkins, 89, of Ceresco.

While she is not a Grange member, Winter said Watkins "is a great worker and friend of the Grange. She comes to our work days and helps with sewing."

Watkins said she has hemmed flags and sewn quilts and blankets for the Grange to donate to various groups.

Watkins has made 56 quilts, which take "five to eight hours from start to finish," Watkins said.

"I enjoy it. I've always volunteered a lot," Watkins said.

Watkins also volunteers her time as a receptionist at Good Samaritan Hospice Residence in Battle Creek on Sunday afternoons.

"I think it's so great we can have a facility like that in the area," Watkins said.

Watkins said her duties on Sunday will consist of "riding in a horse-drawn carriage and waving at the children."

"It's a way to thank her for what she does for the Grange," Winter said.



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