Monday, September 3, 2012


As a child growing up in Detroit a staple of my youth was our annual trip to the small town of Romeo each fall. Surrounded by an abundance of orchards, it provided an opportunity for one to pick their own apples or peaches, purchase fruit pies still warm from the oven, or savor the taste of some freshly made apple cider.  It was an event I always anticipated, even though as a child, the trip seemed to take so long that I always felt as if we were driving to the end of the earth. Fifteen years ago, my husband and I were looking for a new home and we decided that "the end of the earth" would be a charming place to raise our four beautiful daughters. It turned out we were right, but making the transition from city life to country life has brought us countless surprises.
One thing I discovered early on, but somehow, always seem to forget each year, is that our small town loves a parade!  Annually, on Labor Day weekend, our town hosts the "Romeo Peach Festival"; paying homage to all those orchards that so many of  us as young Detroiters, visited as children.  The festival runs from Thursday afternoon until Monday evening, and along with craft shows, Bed Races, a carnival midway, and the very popular "Beers Around the World" attraction, it also provides, not one, but FOUR parades for the literally thousands of visitors that grace our town that weekend.  On Sunday evening following the bed races, the "Festival of Cars" begins. This is a parade for anyone who happens to be a classic car aficionado; providing a plethora of beautifully restored vehicles for viewers to admire.   (This is also an event, which my friend, Lori Lemanski Cetlinski, was a proud participant of this year!)  Immediately afterwards is the "Night Parade," in which participants decorate their trucks or floats with Christmas lights, illuminating the night's sky, and lending a feeling of enchantment to the evening's festivities. Bright and early Monday morning is the "Children's Parade,"  which is the precursor to the main attraction, "The Peach Festival Floral Parade."  All of the parades provide wonderful entertainment and fun for all ages to enjoy... except if you are not attending them, and are merely trying to get to your house which happens to be on the other-side of the parade route.
My first summer as a resident I took my family with me when I ran to the store, unknowingly doing so, right before the Floral Parade was about to begin.  A few minutes later, when attempting to return to our house which is just off of 32 mile road and west of Van Dyke, I quickly ascertained that every avenue that I normally utilized to take home was now blocked by a parade of enormous proportions, and I was not familiar enough with the area to figure out a way around it.  With no other option available, I did what any sensible person would do; I parked the car and asked the family if they wanted to watch a parade!  We did so... for the next two and a half hours.
Last night, fifteen summers later, I did the same thing.  I was returning from visiting my daughters and quickly realized I had not factored in the evening parades.  I know my way around town now though, so I decided upon a little more circuitous route, one that would help me to bypass the festivities.  As I waited at the stop sign that would allow me to cross over Van Dyke and provide me access back to my  house, I was entertained by a large group of townsfolk who had been walking-participants in the parade and were sporting Sumo Wrestling costumes as they waddled across the street, in front of me.
"Only in a small town," I thought to myself, with a delighted smile on my face.
Peach Festival is not the only occasion during which parades have forced me to take the time to pause to reflect upon one of life's "unexpected moments." The high school that I live across the street from has an annual homecoming parade, during which the street is closed off to allow students to march down it together, in anticipation of the big game.  I watch them wistfully, as I remember my own years of high school, at Osborn High, back in Detroit, recognizing that this special time of life is often, far too fleeting. Then there is the "Christmas Parade," which I happened upon last year on my way home from  a meeting at work.  This was one occasion when I was lucky enough to have had food in the car with me, which afforded me the pleasure of just sitting back and partaking of my repast, as I enjoyed the parade that was passing before me.
Small town life is always full of surprises; whether it is the high school band marching down my street while practicing for the fall's big games, or the deer outside my back window, making its way through my subdivision on its way to some unknown destination. Life in this place has a way of making you slow down to enjoy the journey a little bit more...which is something we all should do more frequently, regardless of where we may live.   Blessings, Amycita


  1. Great post Amy! And thank you for making me famous worldwide! : ) Those dancing Sumo wrestlers were something else! I have a pic on my page, not the best though since it was dark. Parades! Gotta love em, (even when you are unintentionally watching right?!)

  2. Thank you Amy for a Happy Memory. I have attended more than one Romeo Peach Festival. Most of the time as unwilling guests. We would be on our way home down Van Dyke from Port Austin (before the freeway of course) and the roads would be blocked off. We would beg my dad to stop so we could buy some peaches, a ploy to attend the many events. He would give in, of course we couldnt get through anyways so why not have some fun !!! Get too busy to attend now but I was in a small town in Wisconsin this weekend (Edgerton pop.5,000) There is something special about small towns !!!

  3. I have lived in Romeo since 1987 and after reading your artical my eyes teared and you have summed up the turn feeelings of ROMEO. We love a parade. We love Kids. We love people. We love our town and want to share it with anyone who is willing to drive North of Hall road and discover PURE MICHIGAN as the ad on tv says. FYI I brought my kids to Romeo (better known as BFE to them) kicking and screaming, both went to school in Romeo, went off to college and returned home and have never really left our special town. Now they also bring their friends and families to enjoy the parades.

    1. thank you so much for leaving your lovely comment. my daughters feel the same way, as your children...romeo will always be there "real" home, now.