2017-07-02 / Insight

North Branch preps for ‘huge’ Fourth of July

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com


Jennifer Rich hangs decorations Wednesday on the porch of her family’s home along Huron Street in the village of North Branch. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich Jennifer Rich hangs decorations Wednesday on the porch of her family’s home along Huron Street in the village of North Branch. Photo by Andrew Dietderich NORTH BRANCH — Jennifer Rich hung red, white and blue banners on her family’s front porch along Huron Street in the village of North Branch on Wednesday.

One block west, Cheryl Thompson was busy at North Branch Bakery churning out beautiful — and delicious looking — red, white, and blue cookies.

With six days before the Fourth of July, and the village’s annual North Branch Days celebration, the buzz and excitement about town would only ramp up.

After all, Rich says the year in North Branch essentially revolves around the event.

“It’s huge,” she told The County Press. “It gets really packed.”

How packed?


Cheryl Thompson, an employee at North Branch Bakery, shows a sampling of the kind of holiday cookies she was busy making mid-week in anticipation of North Branch’s big celebration. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich Cheryl Thompson, an employee at North Branch Bakery, shows a sampling of the kind of holiday cookies she was busy making mid-week in anticipation of North Branch’s big celebration. Photo by Andrew Dietderich “We’ll have about 10,000 people show up in town,” said Kelly Martin, village manager, North Branch, who added it’s always a great opportunity to show off what the village has to offer those not from the area.

Without question, the main draw is the grand parade that begins on the Fourth of July at 11 a.m.

This year’s theme is “Vietnam War Commemorative Celebration” to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

While the parade beings at 11 a.m., participants are set to start gathering in the North Branch High School parking lot at 9 a.m.

Once the parade begins, they head up Brush Street and then swing west down Huron Street.

“Everybody comes out for the parade,” Thompson said after frosting another batch of cookies at North Branch Bakery (closed July 3-5 for the holiday). “Everybody gets excited for it.”

Martin said he has been working with officials from Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mt. Clemens to do a flyover, but as of Wednesday said he still wasn’t sure it was a definite go.

Wendy Miller of Dynamic Dance Studio has been selected as grand marshal for this year’s parade.

The parade will last at least an hour, and ends at Spring Street.

But the fun doesn’t end when the parade does ­— and there are things for both young and old to do.

Mary Oliver, chairman, North Branch Days Committee, said North Branch Days has traditionally been about fun for kids, and this year is no different.

Immediately after the parade, and until 6 p.m., North Branch Summer Rec provides a whole range of activities.

Among other things, the event will feature inflatables, face painting, llama and pony rides, and more, including concessions. (Most of the events are free, but Oliver said it’s important to note there are costs associated with some of the kid-related offerings, such as concessions.)

In its second year, Muxlow Exotic Reptiles returns to North Branch Days, bringing snakes, tortoises, and more to the delight of event attendees. The feature is sponsored by North Branch Animal HealthCare.

One of the new kid-centered events that Oliver is most excited about for this year’s North Branch Days is a petting zoo, and “they’re bringing in quite a few animals.” The feature is sponsored by Bryan’s Supermarket and runs 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Oliver said TnT Golfapalooza also will be at the event, bringing a 30-foot inflatable dinosaur that people can “shoot” at with an air-pressure gun. (There is a fee to participate in the dinosaur shooting game.)

The children’s pedal pull (sponsored by the Deshetsky family) returns once again this year and is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Adults don’t need to feel left out of events, either.

On July 3, the village will host the Freedom 5K Glo Walk/Run. Check-in begins at 8:30 p.m. at North Branch Elementary and the race starts at 9:30 p.m.

On July 4, the Knights of Columbus Chicken Dinner is set to begin at noon (after the parade) until the food is gone. Food will be served at St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, 6645 Washington St. Knights’ member Paul Rogers said last year 450 dinners were gone by 2:30 p.m.

At 1 p.m., the Wells Castle Memorial Horseshoe Tournament begin at 1 p.m. at North Branch Memorial Park. Cost of entry is $10 per person and participants can sign up on-scene. (Last year there were 52 participants).

Further, the Orr Museum on Jefferson Street will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The North Branch Days also has been conscious of offering on-stage entertainment options, Oliver said.

“We have a lot of kids’ activities because we tend to focus on them,” said Oliver. “We thought ‘Well, hey, we might want to provide some entertainment for the adults while they’re down there.’”

The acts will perform near many of the other activities taking place near the old elementary school ball field off of Banker Street. For seating, Oliver encourages people to bring lawn chairs, blankets, etc.

The major sponsor for the performers is Bryan’s Supermarket.

The first performer of the day is an act called “Shades of a King – Elvis Tribute.”

The act features an Elvis impersonator who has performed across the state of Michigan, from the Eastern Michigan State Fair to a set in Holland last October. He will be onstage from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.

From 2 p.m. until 2:45 p.m., Imlay City magician Ray Champion will perform.

From 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., local Christian rock band “10-8” is set to take the stage.

The group is currently in their 12th year of travels having done town festivals, county fairs, special events for multi-denominational churches and camp programs as well as supporting community projects with a variety of non-profits. The band performed last July in downtown Lapeer as part of the Lapeer Summer Concert Series.

Last to take the stage will be the performer known as Brad Goodwin, Troubador, a one-man band from Sebewaing who is set to perform an eclectic mix of folk-based tunes. He most recently performed at Brown City Days. Goodwin will perform from 4:30 until 6 p.m.

Oliver said that about the time performers are done for the day, people will be setting up in anticipation of the fireworks that are launched from the North Branch High School grounds and scheduled to take place at dusk, around 10 p.m.

Oliver praised all of the sponsors for stepping up in unprecedented ways this year to help keep entertainment levels high, and costs low.

“This town steps up and takes care of their own,” she said. “Businesses do not hesitate when we go to them.”

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