2017-07-02 / Insight

Come for unique parade, stay for the rest of Hadley’s celebration

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Below, the Hadley Fourth of July parade included dozens of farm tractors. 
Photos by Jeff Hogan Below, the Hadley Fourth of July parade included dozens of farm tractors. Photos by Jeff Hogan HADLEY — Like a later day version of Lerner and Loewe’s “Brigadoon,” once a year the sleepy hamlet of Hadley springs to life as thousands of people swamp the town for its Fourth of July parade.

The parade itself starts at noon, but the Fourth in Hadley begins at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at the Old Town Hall on Hadley Road, just south of Pratt Road, put on by the Hadley/Metamora Girl Scout Troop.

While Hadley is smaller than a lot of shopping center parking lots its parade is one of the biggest in the county. “It’s a thing,” said Kristie Waldorf, president of the Hadley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has been organizing the parade for years and “organizing” is something of a loose term.

“We don’t do applications,” she said. “People just show up.” In a town where you can stand at the main four corners and hit the edge of town in any direction with a baseball, between 100 and 125 parade units will gather at the Hadley Township Fire Hall on the south end of town on Hadley Road beginning between 10:30 and 11 a.m.


Children and Hadley Township firefighters enjoyed themselves with a water fight along the Hadley parade route. Children and Hadley Township firefighters enjoyed themselves with a water fight along the Hadley parade route. That’s down from the ‘70s and ‘80s when the parade was “massive” said Hadley Fire Chief Kurt Nass, who got his start with the department as a young boy going to fires with his father, Richard, who was fire chief before him.

As with a lot of small town parades, Hadley’s ends with fire trucks with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Nobody’s quite sure when it started or who started it — Nass thinks it was around 2000 — but Hadley’s Fourth of July parade ends with a massive and unique squirt gun fight.

On one side are the firefighters armed with the Indian pumps they use to put out wild fires. On the other side is everyone else armed with everything from squirt guns and Super Soakers to small boat hand bilge pumps fed by wading pools.

“It just happened,” said Nass. “Now it’s more of a tradition.”

Everything in Hadley’s Fourth is something of a tradition. Waldorf said people just show up to arrange the parade units before they head north on Hadley Road at noon. They’ll swing east on Spring Street and then north on East Street before turning west on Pratt Road and south on Second Street. It’s a route that hasn’t changed for years.

While the Girl Scouts are serving pancakes at the Old Town Hall at 8 a.m., runners will set off from the Hadley Mill Museum on the 5K - Run of the Mill, hosted by the Hadley Township Historical Society.

At 10 a.m. the Children’s Parade will start in downtown Hadley; the Hadley Township Library will begin its annual used book sale; and the Hadley Mill Museum will open its doors.

Museum visitors will have a chance to get a close look at the 1914 Monroe on loan from Flint’s Sloan Museum and a small collection of World War I items, as well as items that document Hadley’s history.

To help keep the doors open for future years, Hadley Township Historical Society members will sell the group’s new sweatshirts and T-shirts along with the mill’s popular ball caps and coffee mugs. The sweatshirts, which are gray with the mill in red, cost $20 and the T-shirts, which feature a reproduction of the old mill feed sack, will be available for $15.

The Society will also hold a drawing for a mountain bike. Tickets are $1 each and the drawing will be held at 3 p.m. when the museum closes for the day.

Waldorf said Hadley visitors will want to head to the north end of town between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. where Le Fleur Décor will host its Art & Vintage Fair. There will be live music, a beverage tent and craft vendors with an eclectic mix of local art, antiques and vintage goodies.

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