History part of Metro area holiday celebrations

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

This Memorial Day weekend, Lorna and Russell Paul will walk the grounds of Dearborn's Greenfield Village, looking as if they just left the 1860s.

Lorna Paul sits with her two granddaughters, Adriana, 5, and Vivian, 2, at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, dressed for their part as Civil War re-enactors.

During a three-day Civil War Remembrance, the Hazel Park couple joins hundreds of others acting out roles from the era. Lorna is wearing a bonnet, gloves, long dress, hoop skirt and petticoats to portray a seamstress; elsewhere, her husband greets visitors wearing the navy blue coat of a Union Army infantry captain.

"Memorial Day is important to me because, in my modern life, I have two sons who served in the military," Lorna Paul said. "Of course, we remember those who not only fought in the Civil War, but other veterans. It is a real honor to participate and show people what history is all about and how it pertains and relates to today."

From historical re-enactments to parades, concerts, festivals, outdoor activities and more, Metro Detroiters are celebrating the holiday and summer's unofficial start with a host of events through Monday.

The weekend kicks off with Movement 2015, the latest incarnation of Detroit's annual electronic music festival. Over three days, thousands of revelers pack Hart Plaza to sample beats from numerous acts.

Many Michiganians also are moving another way throughout the weekend: AAA Michigan officials expect more than 1.1 million to trek 50 at least miles from home — a nearly 5 percent jump from 2014, and the highest volume for the holiday in eight years.

On Saturday, when the National Weather Service forecasts temperatures rebounding into the low 70s, some will flock to the Rip Slide at Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter. The three-story tall, 175-foot-long inflatable waterslide debuts there after a successful run at another metropark, said Jerry Cyr, park operations manager at Hudson Mills.

Open daily through Sept. 7, weather and conditions permitting, the slide costs $2 per ride, or $10 unlimited, Cyr said. A Metropark vehicle entry permit also is required.For more information and reservations: (734) 426-8211 or www.metroparks.com.

"There's going to be a lot of excitement for it," Cyr said. "I think the hotter it gets, the busier it will be."

At Greenfield Village's annual Civil War Remembrance from Saturday through Monday, hundreds of re-enactors, musicians and presenters help depict the period through exhibits, presentations, tactical demonstrations and re-creations of military and civilian camps.

The event coincides with the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, for both the end of the war and Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Reflecting the nation mourning the president's death, the thousands of anticipated visitors can expect to glimpse "lots of black crepe on the town hall and courthouse and tavern, the general store and up and down Main Street," said Jim Johnson, senior manager in charge of Greenfield Village programs. "It'll be an interesting backdrop for the events going on this year."

At Greenfield Village, from left, Eric Nelson, Jeff Nelson, Matthew Armstrong, and Kevin Kar work to set a pole outside Town Hall.

Another highlight arrives at noon Monday, when hundreds of participants decked out as Union and Confederate soldiers and others converge at the Village Green for a ceremony honoring military veterans and members.

Recognizing the sacrifice of military veterans is the focus for many events on the holiday, when parades, processions and ceremonies are planned from Lake Orion to Sterling Heights and Farmington.

In Dearborn, holiday events start with a special funeral procession at 9:40 a.m Monday. The cremated remains of two World War II Army veterans — 1st Lt. Lyle Martin Baylor, who died in 1979, and Private First Class John Spaman, who died in 1986 — are carried in a flag-draped casket on a horse-drawn caisson down the parade route. Their cremated remains had been not claimed and are expected to be interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, said Sean Green, commander of the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, which organized the event.

"Police will have a riderless horse behind them," he said. "It's very solemn. It puts everything into perspective when you see that."

The parade starts at 10 a.m. and includes grand marshal Ryan "Birdman" Parrott, a retired Navy SEAL and Metro Detroit native who served in Iraq and founded Sons of the Flag, which advocates for burn victims. Afterward, a noon remembrance ceremony is planned at City Hall Park.

Whether barbecuing or heading to the beach for the holiday, celebrants should "take a moment to reflect on what it's about," Green said. "Go on and have the fun you're going to continue have, but take the time to remember those that sacrificed themselves so we can have this fun."


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Area holiday activities

Communities will have ceremonies and parades this weekend. Here are a few of note:

Troy concert by Birmingham Concert Band, 3 p.m. Sunday at White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery, 621 W. Long Lake. At 11 a.m. Monday White Chapel hosts aWorld War I Polar Bear Memorial Service.

Hazel Park Memorial Festival at Green Acre Park (75 W. Woodward Heights) through Monday.

Sterling Heights festivities begin with a 9 a.m. Monday ceremony in the courtyard between City Hall, 40555 Utica, and the police department. The 36th annual parade begins at 10 a.m. on Dodge Park in front of City Hall.

Livonia 's celebration will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at Veterans Park Memorial Plaza at Five Mile and Farmington.

Eastpointe will have its ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at City Hall, 23200 Gratiot.

Dearborn 's parade at 10 a.m. Monday will feature Ryan "Birdman" Parrott, a retired Navy SEAL who founded Sons of the Flag.

Farmington 's parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday, at Grand River and Orchard Lake.

Wayne-Westland Veterans Memorial Parade will start at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Wayne Ford Civic League, 1645 South Wayne, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Garden behind the Public Library, 6123 Central City Parkway, where there will be a short ceremony.