Protesters line streets during Blossomtime Parade

A tradition of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor since 1923 was held on Saturday as the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade celebrated the beginning of the blossom season in southwest Michigan.

This year's parade was led by Grand Marshal Governor Rick Snyder and featured bands and more than 100 floats.

However, this year's parade also featured protesters lining the streets of Benton Harbor.

Groups of demonstrators from around Michigan and even from out of state took advantage of the public appearance by Governor Snyder to raise their voices against the Michigan's new emergency financial manager law. The law gives EFM's like Benton Harbor's Joseph Harris the authority to dissolve local governmental bodies.

Some protesters, led by the AFL-CIA, came from as far away as Kentucky.

"People are waking up," said Betsy Coffia, who traveled from Traverse City, Mich. to protest the parade. "Michigan didn't have a Wisconsin, things just sneaked in behind us. We're starting to realize that unless we the people start getting engaged,and make our voices heard, we're going to lose what we thought we had."

Michigan Rep Al Pscholka was scheduled to appear in the parade as well but declined after he heard about the protester presence. Pscholka was in St. Joseph this morning working as a volunteer.


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