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Holly scrambles to honor veterans with Fourth of July parade

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Holly — A quiet Saturday morning of flag-waving and smiles from neighbors was all a tight-knit community could hope for during unusual circumstances. 

Since the annual Memorial Day celebration was canceled due to the pandemic local officials decided to replace it with a first-ever Fourth of July parade.

David Roddy of Fowlerville waves a flag while participating in the Holly 4th of July parade in Holly on Saturday.

Steve Striggow, a Marine veteran and American Legion member, said they were lucky to pull off the parade on short notice. 

“Several of us in the veteran community were talking and because we had the support of this township, we decided we could not go without having a parade and let the year go by without awarding scholarships to our students,” Striggow said during a ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial at Lakeside Cemetery. 

“Thank God the governor let us do it. The youth of our country is our future. This is just as much for them,” Striggow said.

Police Chief Jerry L. Narsh stands at attention during the memorial ceremony after the parade.

About 150 people gathered in downtown Holly to greet the parade. Residents grabbed their lawn chairs and lined up with their families, most social distancing and some wearing masks. 

The mile-long parade was led by a local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion rifle squad, with local officials, businesses, girl scouts, a horse training troop, and a dozen ambulances and firetrucks starting on the corner of Maple and Saginaw.

Freedom Training and Reproduction Center riders participate in the parade.

"It was an awesome last-minute parade to give us some patriotism and remember our lost military veterans in our close-knit community," said Melissa Nichols, 44. "We've lived in Holly for 22 years and this is the first time we've done this but we were able to watch our daughters in the Moana float so that was our favorite part."

The parade traveled down Maple, turning north on Park and finishing at the Veterans Memorial and Lakeside Cemetery, where officials held a remembrance ceremony and distributed scholarships to students in the name of deceased veterans.

Lloyd Bigham III of Fenton hands a rose to Michael Patterson of Davisburg to place down to remember Holly soldiers killed in action.

The Holly Youth Choir sang the National Anthem and a local girl scout troop raised the flag overlooking the lake.

Fred Kelly, a veteran who served in the Army in Vietnam, led as commander of the nine-member rifle squad Saturday at the forefront of the parade. 

The highlighting event is honoring 54 local vets who sacrificed their lives, Kelly said. 

“It was a lovely impromptu parade to make up for our Memorial Day and other events missed during this time,” said Kelly from Holly. “The best part is a rose ceremony for our departed veterans from Korea and Vietnam Wars.”

Vehicles ride along the parade route.

Caleb and Jessica Miles traveled from nearby Fenton with their 2-year-old daughter Faith for the parade because their local parade was canceled.

"We were surprised it wasn't many people but really loved the parade and hope to do fireworks later," said Jessica Miles, 36. "We just wanted to show appreciation and applaud officers who do so much for us."

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

Deidre Proper watches the parade from her home.