Oak Park Celebrates the Fourth of July

Oak Park Celebrates the Fourth of July

(Cheryl Weiss, July 6, 2017)

Oak Park, MI – A beloved Oak Park family tradition since 1960 continued this Fourth of July with thousands of people gathering  in Shepherd Park to enjoy the parade and activities.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and families arrived early in the morning to claim their favorite picnic spots or participate in the Mayor’s 5K Race.  As always, the pancake breakfast was a popular site for families and friends to stop before the parade, enjoy a delicious breakfast, and as all the proceeds went to the Youth Assistance, every meal will help kids in the community.

The Oak Park Fourth of July celebration originally started in 1959 with a picnic in the park.  It was so successful, they added a parade and fireworks the following year.  Over time, it grew to include activities for all ages spread around the park, music, and much more.  Oak Park no longer has a fireworks display, but the celebration in the park continues to grow every year.   Generations of families look forward to celebrating the holiday together in Oak Park.  Resident  Paul Blatt was enjoying the pancake breakfast with his wife, Faye.  He shared that this has been his tradition for 46 years.

Shepherd Park was filled with activities, from booths offering face painting and wax hands to create,  huge straws to fill with powder candy, the balloon lady to make animals out of balloons,  inflatables for kids to bounce on, pony rides, and a petting zoo with a friendly llama, and kids loved it all!  When asked what their favorite activity in the park was, the pony rides got most of the votes.  Nine year-old Sydney and her friends Alex and Bella all agreed that the pony rides were their favorite.  O’Niya, age eight, liked the “bouncy houses” best.  Jill Cook, mom of Alex and Bella said, “We came for the parade. We do this every year; this is our third year here together.”  The group had big smiles as they left to check out more  fun in the park.   Laurie Stasiak, Director of Recreation, worked hard with her team to plan a day filled with fun for everyone to enjoy.  This year, all activities in the park were free, which was a change from last year.  There was a charge at vendor booths for food, however.

The parade was a hometown celebration.  Parade watchers lined the streets from Coolidge to Oak Park Boulevard to Church, many dressed in red, white, and blue outfits.  Marsha Miller, an Oak Park resident for 52 years, found very tall red, white, and blue hats a few years ago, and bought one for herself, her husband, and their daughter.  They wear the hats and matching shirts to the parade every year.  This year, her husband, Ken Miller, was walking around the park before the parade, and a mom asked if her little boy could have a picture taken with Miller. The holiday spirit even spread to canines; many of the the dogs watching the parade sported holiday bandanas, in the holiday spirit.

Many former residents, who have moved away from Oak Park, love to return on the Fourth of July.  Patti Eaken said, “As a former Oak Parker, I have to come back.  I miss the city, and the community feel that’s here, especially with the parade.”  Her granddaughter, Meah Cass, is five years old and she was excited to see her family and friends at the parade.

As the parade started, excitement built.  “I hear music!  Do you see anything yet?” little kids asked their parents.   Many people from the Oak Park community and the school district participated in the parade.   The Oak Park High School marching band entertained the crowd with energetic music and dancing along the parade route.  Pepper School Panthers students and staff marched in the parade, showing their school spirit.  The Oak Park Saints football team and cheerleaders added to the festivities of the day.  The Detroit Twirling Steppers performed for the crowd, The East Oak Park Neighborhood Association were in the parade with their four foot squirrel mascot.  Other parade highlights included the Leader Dogs for the Blind, E-Z Roll Bike Riders group, Roary the Lion, the Electric Express train, Jewish War Veterans, First Baptist Church,  Dragon’s Eight Karate, lots of kids on decorated bikes, State Representative Robert Wittenberg, the very tall woman on stilts, City of Oak Park staff members walked in the parade, with smiles and hugs,  and the Oak Park Public Safety ice cream truck was there too.  Oak Park resident Cheryl Glaser enjoyed the parade, saying, “This is a tradition, we’ve been coming here since the kids were little.  It’s the community, the people celebrating together, it’s fun!”

After the parade, while the aroma of family barbecues filled the air, there were also food booths available with pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, elephant ears, and much more.   The band Doctor Pocket performed, and many people gathered near the stage to listen and dance.

The Fourth of July in Oak Park was also a time for old friends and neighbors to meet and catch up.  Rachel Euseary grew up in Oak Park, and she is raising her family in Oak Park.  “I bring the kids here because it’s a lot of fun, and there’s so much stuff for them to do here.  This brings people together and it’s very family-oriented.”   Her daughter, Laila, is almost nine, and was excited about all the activities to do at the park.

The Oak Park pool and miniature golf were open also all day, for guests to enjoy.

Residents remarked throughout the day how friendly and kind everyone was to each other.  Some of the families having barbecues invited people to stop by and join them.  Others offered chairs to people who stopped to rest for a moment.  Everyone was welcoming to each other, whether they were neighbors, friends, or strangers.  At the Fourth of July in Oak Park, everyone is a friend.   It was a beautiful day, and some residents were sad to see it come to an end.  One little boy started crying when his mom picked him up to take him to the car at the end of the day.  Even once the vendors started to pack up and leave, attendees still lingered, not wanting to leave quite yet.  It was still the Fourth of July, warm, sunny, and a wonderful day in the “Family City” of Oak Park.

To find out about upcoming activities in the City of Oak Park, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CityofOakPark/

About the author

Oakland County Times has written 10656 articles for Oakland County Times

The Oakland County Times started with one city in 2009 and has grown to the community news hub you see today. Contact editor@oc115.com if you have any questions, comments, event listings, etc. Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or check out our online community garden. Also happy to hear tips and story ideas.

Comments are closed.