Archived Story

Michael Bennett: First Memorial Day weekend in Michigan

Published 10:58pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Part of the pleasure of my life’s traveling adventures is exploring a new place to live along with all of the new “firsts.” What a welcoming first Michigan Memorial Day weekend I enjoyed.

Living in a second-floor loft apartment in downtown Dowagiac has many great advantages, along with one major disadvantage. I can’t grill out back.

Not so this weekend, as I was invited to enjoy a Memorial Day barbecue on Saturday and I got to grill. Two racks of ribs grilled Kansas City-style and freshly grilled Michigan asparagus with tarragon. Soon as I began mixing the dry rub I was in heaven.

Loading that grill with charcoal and lighting it up and the smoky aroma brought me back 50-plus years to my Pennsylvania home as dad did the barbecue duties. Sometimes he’d let me flip a burger. I miss that guy.

Later, I sat around a bonfire and was introduced to s’mores. I’ve heard of them but never had one before. The kids thought I was from Mars. How could I have not eaten a s’more before? I’ve toasted many a marshmallow over a fire in my day but adding that to a graham cracker and chocolate was quite a treat.

On Sunday, I headed to Warren Dunes State Park and experienced the Michigan beach. Mind you, I grew up about 40 miles from the Jersey shore.

While there are some similarities, there are major differences.  The water is calmer here and the crowds are smaller despite the long line of cars entering the park. Trust me — that is nothing compared to the lines of traffic that can stretch for miles leading to the Jersey shore.

It sure was a hot day and the water was icy cold. You could fry or freeze — there was no in-between. I was surprised to see a dog section of the beach.

Some of those smaller dogs looked tortured as their owners walked them out into the lake and deposited them gently into the icy water. Other doggies paddled with apparent glee.

On Monday, I ran to the office early to grab my laptop to work at home. That didn’t happen, but I had good intentions. I got to view a little of the Niles Memorial Day parade before heading back to Dowagiac for another parade. As the crowd waited for the start of the parade, I walked up and down Front Street and invited anyone with a camera to take some shots of the parade and their families to enter them in our Summer Fun Photo Contest. You will see some pretty good pictures on our website.

Then, Tuesday morning came way too soon. I slept in after enjoying one of my best weekends in some time. Thank you, Michigan, for your great hospitality!

Summer Fun Photo Contest

Our Summer Fun Photo Contest is under way.

You can view and enter photographs at We will provide a $500 grand prize along with other prizes throughout the summer.

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