Ontonagon parade draws a crowd

ONTONAGON – Nobody knows what the Ontonagon Labor Day parade will look like until it happens.

It’s open to everyone from businesses to families. There’s no theme. And aside from throwing candy into the crowd, they can choose what they want.

“Sometimes people don’t decide until Saturday night they’ve going to be in the parade, and we don’t discourage them,” said Bill Chabot, co-organizer of the festival.

Sunday’s parade had everything: Marching bands, a Chinese dragon and a “Ride the Pawntune” truck towing a beach bum with a water gun.

The act most singled out by parade watchers was the “Gangnam Style” float. A Psy dressalike was joined in the dance by women in black leotards and neon-green bows and men in wigs and white dresses.

“It’s fun, it’s a crowd-pleaser,” said Lee Haynes of Marquette.

Haynes, who lived in Ontonagon 25 years ago, came back to show his children what it was like. The parade lived up to the memories.

“I’m pretty impressed … it’s every bit as good as Marquette’s parade, still,” he said.

Bill Kilmer of Ontonagon and Nancy Ward of Austin, Texas, had taken in a lot of the sights, including the Maxwell Street sidewalk sales on Saturday. Kilmer had taken part in the rock-skipping contest Friday and Sunday’s Ed Hansen Memorial Run.

“There’s a lot of activity, and a lot of people come to town for it,” Kilmer said.

And they both liked the number of active floats, as well as the six bands featured in this year’s parade.

“It was more fun this year than ever before,” Kilmer said.

The festival wrapped up Monday with the Hank Thompson Memorial Kiddies Parade on River Street followed by Kids’ games.