Blossomtime replacing school stops with new good will tour, banquet

Published 12:54 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

By Staff
BENTON HARBOR -- Since Sept. 11, 2001, all of our lives have changed in one way or another.
No matter our age, religion, occupation or race, we are all different -- more cautious, more sensitive and we give more thought to others.
Our values have changed. Our families are more important. We're more patriotic.
At Blossomtime, Michigan's oldest and largest multi-community festival, they've seen these changes in young adults with whom they work closely.
Blossomtime has decided it's time to care and to share the joy and happiness of the festival with those who are less fortunate.
This year it will forgo traditional visits to schools and downtowns of communities that participate in the spring festival.
Instead, people young and old will be visited in the spirit of community service during Blossomtime's new Good Will Tour.
The Good Will Tour will take place April 28-May 1.
During these visits there will be a new program, "Blossomtime's Queen and/or King for a Day."
The festival's entourage, armed with a Polaroid camera and crowns, will take photos with the queens or kings and autograph them as a keepsake.
So that their communities can still honor queens and kings, the festival will hold a Keys to the Cities banquet on Monday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. at Pebble Wood Country Club in Bridgman.
During this event, festival royalty will receive personalized awards that they earned during the pageant in March and charms from their sister queens.
Mayors and village presidents from the 24 Blossomtime communities will be present to give the key to their city to their community queen or king.
Brenda Layne of WSJM AM will emcee the event. Carol Siewer of Baroda is the chairperson. Tickets will not be sold at the door, but are available by calling 269/926-7397.
Blessing of blossoms
opens festival week
The Blessing of the Blossoms, a non-denominational religious service, officially opens the Blossomtime Festival on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m.
The event will take place at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center, 1791 Hillendale Road, Benton Harbor.
Among those participating in this year's opening event are Parables dancers from First United Methodist Church in Dowagiac, the Metro Chords of Bridgman, The Vineyard Blend men's chorus from Baroda and Father Donald Potts of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Cassopolis -- home church of Mr. Blossomtime Adam Smego.
Purpose of the ceremony is to bless the blossoms on the trees and to pray for a bountiful harvest.
The first Blessing of the Blossoms took place in 1906 at First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor by the Rev. W.J. Cady. It is credited as beginning the Blossomtime Festival.
The event is chaired by Carol Siewert of Baroda and sponsored by Florin Funeral Service. The ceremony will take place outside. The public is welcome to attend and invited to bring lawn chairs. No admission is charged.
Fashion show
The 2003 Blossomtime fashion show, "The Dream Skater," will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30, in the Grand Upton Hall at Lake Michigan College.
Models include: Miss Blossomtime Kerri Hazel from Bloomingdale; First Runner-up Alexandra Shannon of Benton Harbor; Second Runner-up Kristin Rose of Dowagiac; Miss Congeniality Emily Eller of Stevensville; the remaining 20 community queens; Mr. Blossomtime Adam Smego of Cassopolis; First Runner-Up Aaron Wilson of Stevensville; Second Runner-up Jeffery Geigler of New Buffalo; Mr. Nice Guy Joshua Nicholson of New Buffalo; Bud Princess Sunny Gathright of St. Joseph; and Bud Prince Ryan Rainey of New Buffalo, who is Adam's nephew.
The Sawyer Dance Troupe will open the show again this year, with Jenifer Scherer entertaining the audience with songs of romance.
Many door prizes, including a certificate for a new dishwasher, will be given to those in the audience.
The show is open to the public. Admission is $10 per person. Tickets may be purchased at the Blossomtime Festival office, 151 E. Napier Ave, Benton Harbor.
E-mail or visit on the Web.
Gertie Johnson of Bridgman chairs this event.
Pre-parade pasta party
The Blossomtime Festival's annual pre-parade party at FOP Lodge 100 in Benton Harbor takes place Friday evening, May 2, from 6 to 11 p.m.
Those who attend will be served an "all-you-can-eat" pasta buffet including garlic bread and salad provided by Pizza Hut. Miller Lite and Pepsi will also be served.
Music, dancing and the evening's activities will be provided by 94.9, The Coast.
There will be drawings for shirts and other prizes throughout the evening.
Guests will include Miss Blossomtime, her court, Mr. Blossomtime and his runners-up, honorary grand marshals and other festival guests.
Runners and walkers who have pre-registered may pick up their packets at the pasta party. Those who have not have the opportunity to register that evening.
Sponsors include Pizza Hut, Miller Lite, Pepsi Cola and 94.9 The Coast.
The public is welcome to attend and meet and greet parade guests.
Tickets for the party cost $10 and are available at the festival office, 151 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor, or at the door.
Chairperson is Kim Fowler of Stevensville.
Post-parade party
Blossomtime Festival's annual post-Grand Floral Parade party at Schuler's Restaurant and Pub in Stevensville takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 3.
A buffet supper will be served and there will be entertainment. Grand Floral Parade trophies will be presented to winners.
Community queens, including Miss Blossomtime and her court and Mr. Blossomtime and his court, will be in attendance.
Admission to the party costs $15. Tickets may be purchased at the Blossomtime Festival office, 151 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor.
Kim Fowler chairs the event.