John Proos: Blossomtime a time to celebrate in Southwest MichiganPublished 9:21am Wednesday, May 1, 2013
By Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph
Every year, my fellow area legislators and I proudly welcome the year’s Blossomtime pageant finalists to the state Capitol. This year’s court includes Miss Blossomtime Katlynn Kennedy of Buchanan and Mr. Blossomtime Jalen Holmes of St. Joseph.
Hosting these outstanding young people is always a highlight of the year — mainly because it is rewarding to see such great ambassadors of Michigan’s Great Southwest and its people.
The 107-year-old Blossomtime Festival and its Grand Floral Parade are the oldest and largest multicommunity events in the state.
It is a wonderful family event that helps attract thousands of visitors to our community in celebration of the beauty and rich agricultural heritage of Southwest Michigan.
The 2013 festival began on Sunday with the nondenominational Blessing of the Blossoms ceremony and will conclude with the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday.
I look forward to participating in the parade, which will start at 1 p.m. in St. Joseph. It travels two and a half miles through the city, across the Bicentennial Bridge and into Benton Harbor.
As the signature showcase of the festival, the Grand Floral Parade regularly draws 250,000 spectators to see 125 parade entries, featuring floats, bands, antique cars, clowns, equestrian teams and — of course — the Blossomtime Queens and Kings.
In a mark of consistency and dedication, this year will mark the 50th consecutive appearance of the famous Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team leading the parade.
Another highlight of the week is the 34th annual Run for the Buds 5K Run/Walk. It starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in downtown St. Joseph, follows the parade route to Benton Harbor and back again to St. Joseph.
Winners in 15 age groups, from ages 8 and under to 65 and older, will ride in the parade. All proceeds from the event help fund scholarships for outstanding young men and women. For more information, visit www.blossomtimefestival.org.
It all makes for good family fun, so I encourage you to come out and enjoy a great Southwest Michigan tradition.
I especially want to thank all the volunteers, participants and vendors who make the festival successful each year. It truly could not be possible without your efforts.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.