Metro Detroiters celebrate family on the Fourth

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Clawson — Metro Detroiters paraded their patriotism Wednesday as they celebrated Independence Day with food, fireworks and family. 

Siblings Logan Russell, 9, and Audrey Russell, 6, of Nashville, Tenn., wait for the start of the Clawson parade.

Elaine Schlachter, 48, joined in the joy at Clawson's annual Fourth of July parade.

"To me, the Fourth means Clawson's parade," the Beverly Hills resident said while she waited for the procession to start. "Just seeing the community, families and remembering what it's all about."

Clawson was among dozens of Metro Detroit communities, including Gibraltar, Northville and Wyandotte, to wish the nation a happy 242nd birthday Wednesday with a parade or festival. 

The Oakland County community has held its annual Fourth of July parade since 1933, and it draws more than 20,000 attendees every year. The procession started at Crooks Road and 14 Mile and traveled east to Main Street then north on Main to Elmwood Avenue to end at Clawson Park.

Schlachter brought her two granddaughters, Liliana, 5, and Willow, 3, with her. They picked a spot near the Leon & Lulu furniture and gift store on 14 Mile to catch the parade.

"I've been coming to it for a long time," she said. "And I've been bringing Liliana since she was a baby. We come here, experience the parade and get Popsicles."

She said her plans for after the parade were simple: Stay cool.

That looked to be a challenge. By the 9:30 a.m. start of the parade, the temperature had reached a balmy 81 degrees and rose into the low 90s, according to the National Weather Service. 

Like Schlachter, the Clawson Fourth of July parade is a family tradition for Gretchen Russell's family.

"Even if it's 555 miles to do so," she said.

Bruce Burlager, 58, of Troy salutes during the parade.

Russell, 35, who grew up in Troy, came all the way from Nashville with her family for the holiday. It's the second year she and her family have returned to the area for the Fourth, she said.

Her two kids, Logan, 9, and Audrey, 6, were stationed on a blanket at the curb of 14 Mile, a perfect spot to see the parade. Russell was only a couple of feet behind them on a campus chair.

She said after the parade, they planned a cookout and a visit with family.

"We're going to be hanging with the fam," Russell said.

Russell's parents, Marc and Liza Nellist, of Troy, were sitting next to her on their own chairs.

"This is a tradition," Liza Nellist said.

Marc Nellist said it's even more than that.

"It's a chance to for all of us as citizens of this country to have a sense of civility and patriotism, to come out and celebrate what the day means.

"We have the veterans here, they shows us their strength and they're important to this country."

He said he also cheers for the politicians and elected officials in the parade, no matter which party they're with.

"They're showing that they're participating in democracy," Nellist said. "I may not agree with them and they may not agree with me, but the fact is we have to participate in our democracy. If we don't, we may end up with something we don't want in the future."

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez