Protest planned for Blossomtime Parade Saturday afternoon

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

Final preparations are underway for Saturday’s Blossomtime Parade in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.

The event has been a longstanding tradition of positive Michigan values, but this year it's become a platform for political upheaval.

"I guess I was kind of shocked,” Blossomtime Festival President Anna Abdelnour said. "There might be some problems along the way, maybe some people will be unhappy, but I think all-in-all, the overall feeling will be just the same as it is every year."

The Blossomtime Festival dates back to 1906, until this year, the biggest police concern was a street vendor without a license.

"It’s disappointing that they've chosen to take such a positive community event and put a negative aspect on it,” said Chief Mark Clapp of the St. Joseph Police Department.

As the parade starts down Main Street in St. Joseph Saturday afternoon, an estimated 500 protesters will march from the Benton Harbor Public Library, fighting to pull a new state law off the books.

"Public Act IV needs to be repealed. I think any individuals such as Pscholka, they need to be recalled. I mean if they think it's fine that they can appoint an individual to come in and fire elected officials, then they should be fired as well,” John Waltz said with the Heartland Revolution.

Half a dozen local and statewide political groups say the parade isn’t their focus, but instead, who is in the parade. That includes politicians like Gov. Rick Snyder (R), Rep. Fred Upton (R) and State Rep. Al Pscholka (R), all who support the state's takeover of Benton Harbor.

After marching through Benton Harbor, protesters plans to cross the Bicentennial Bridge. Police are now reviewing those plans to make sure First Amendment rights don't come in the way of a prized event.

A recent poll conducted by a Chicago-based research company found that 50 percent of Benton Harbor residents approve of state-appointed emergency financial manager Joseph Harris.

As of Thursday, State Rep. Al Pscholka had withdrawn from the parade. However, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Rep. Fred Upton (R) will still participate.


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