By Alan Madlane
The Polish Day Parade has marched its last through the streets of Hamtramck.
In yet another sign of the city’s changing demographics – although parade planners openly cite other reasons for making the change – the fabled and much-loved parade has followed the typical exit trail north to the City of Warren.
Warren will now become the parade’s new home.
The news had a bit of a soft landing anyway, as it had been cancelled the past two years due to the pandemic.
In a letter dated Dec. 6, 2021, the Polish Day Parade Committee (a function of the Polish American Congress’ Michigan Division) stated that the decision to move the parade was based primarily on two factors: the date it was traditionally held (Labor Day weekend), and the amount of room in the streets.
“Too many potential parade participants were unavailable, due to having other plans over the long, end-of-summer holiday weekend,” read the letter, signed by Parade Committee Chairman John Chmura.
Chmura is a district court judge in Warren.
Why not move the date, one might ask?
Well, the obvious answer is that the parade has been traditionally tied into the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival. That arrangement was considered by many as mutually beneficial, as there was a built-in audience.
However, over the years there would be sporadic discussions among city officials and parade organizers as to whether to continue this arrangement.
City officials complained that parade organizers were not compensating the city financially for the extra cost in blocking off streets, and parade organizers have toyed for some time with moving it to Warren.
The new date in Warren this year will be Saturday, Aug. 20 at 2:45 p.m., a date two weeks before Labor Day weekend, and which corresponds to a yearly city “Birthday Bash,” a Warren anniversary celebration very much similar-sounding to the Labor Day Festival, but, critically, moved up that couple of weeks.
But it wasn’t just the dates that were deemed problematic. The route was also seen as a perpetual issue.
The parade had long travelled a route beginning at Jos. Campau and Holbrook, and then proceeding north on Campau past Caniff Ave. to Casmere St., whereupon it then rather haphazardly dispersed among the booths and crowd in a messy fashion.
The parade will now high-step its way up Van Dyke Ave. beginning at Martin Rd. (basically, 11-and-a-half Mile), and venture its usual mile distance north to Common Rd., where the Warren city hall, police station and courthouse are located.
“This also is where the Birthday Bash’s festivities are held, and so is the perfect place to end the parade,” the committee’s letter noted.
“Van Dyke is a wide thoroughfare, providing ample space for the units to operate without interference,” they added.
In any case, it marks the end of another familiar city tradition.
Posted Feb. 18, 2022