Ludington Street readies for big 150 parade

ESCANABA – Ludington Street is preparing for an invasion.

As a kickstart to Escanaba’s sesquicentennial, a large parade will proceed down main street July 5, starting at 7 p.m.

Registrations are due Friday for the event, and it’s hoped a wide cross section of people will participate.

Entries from civic groups, churches and business/industry have streamed in, according to parade organizer Bonnie Wenick-Kutz, but spontaneous additions are still welcome.

“For example, if kids from a neighborhood or block would like to decorate bikes and ride down Ludington, or pull wagons with mini-floats, that would be great,” she said.

Wenick-Kutz urged anyone with para”We really want this to be an event to remember, and a fun way to start out Escanaba’s 150th birthday celebration,” Wenick-Kutz said.

The theme of the parade is “The Way We Were,” and several entries will hit historic themes. Centennial queen candidates have been invited, along with many former city officials, and a plan is afoot to reunite Escanaba’s 1957 Little League All-Star Team that finished fourth in the world.

Current industry leaders and educational groups will show off what the city has to offer, now and in the future, as well.

Among musical entries are the Eskymo Marching Band, Escanaba City Band and a steel drum unit from Milwaukee.

Special guests will include representatives from the Third Order of St. Francis in Peoria, Ill., and Boy Scout Troop 370 from Jacksonville, N.C. The troop’s senior scout leader is the grandson of former Escanaba City Councilman George Rusch.

Parade grand marshals will be Patt and John Besse, local philanthropists whose current project is the establishment of a new city park on Escanaba’s southwest side. An ice cream social/grand opening of the park (8th Avenue South and 30th Street) is set for noon on July 8.

The Esky 150 parade will line up at the Escanaba Civic Center area, said Wenick-Kutz, and proceed eastward down Ludington. All participants will turn left past the Delta County building or right after the state office building to disband, and buses will be available to transport people back across town, she noted. Children on floats must be in the company of adults, she added, and candy throwing is not allowed, but walkers may hand out candy or freebies along the parade route.

Judging will take place at parade lineup, beginning at 6 p.m. Following the parade, residents are encouraged to enjoy the free 1950s concert by B.B. Secrist at the Karas Bandshell in Ludington Park.

In addition, a block party and tours of Lofts on Ludington will be held in the 1600 block of Ludington Street.

“We really hope the town will turn out to enjoy this evening,” said Wenick-Kutz. “Many businesses and churches will be represented, some marking their own unique milestones, including the 150-year-old Crawford Funeral Home franchise.”

Class reunions are planning to take part in the parade and there will be a special appearance by the 1963 Centennial baby.

Richard Butryn of Bark River will ride in his retooled steam-powered Ford Model T, which he also rode in 1963.

“I still have it and it still runs,” he said. “That was quite a parade in 1963 – we had so many floats it took me almost two hours to go from one end of town to the other.”

In 1963, parade entrants lined up along the roads in north Escanaba, converging at the “Y,” now site of the Stephenson Avenue roundabout. Besides local floats and vehicles, the centennial parade attracted entries from Rhinelander, Green Bay and Racine, Wis.; Marquette, Ishpeming, Munising, Manistique, K.I. Sawyer air base, Ironwood, L’Anse and Iron River. A June 1963 Daily Press ad also indicated that the Delft Theatre would be showing “two full reels” featuring the early days of Escanaba.

For more information on the Esky 150 parade, contact Wenick-Kutz at Registration forms are available at or city questions to contact her at 789-0900 or 466-2116.