05-03-2018 With spring comes Blossomtime; weeklong celebration opens with Blessing of the Blossoms o

With spring comes Blossomtime; weeklong celebration opens with Blessing of the Blossoms on Sunday

and features Grand Parade Saturday

By Annette Christie The 2018 Blossomtime Festival officially kicked off Sunday, April 29 with the Blessing of the Blossoms event at the MSU Extension Office in Benton Harbor. Local royalty brandished blossoms from their respective communities and exchanged with their fellow sisters and brothers of Blossomtime. A history of the event was given providing an overview of how the event began. The Blossomtime Festival is the largest multi-community festival in the state.

TRI-CITIES QUEENS… Community queens and kings exchanged blossoms at the annual Blessing of the Blossoms event held at the MSU Extension Center on Sunday afternoon. This is the beginning of a busy week for local royalty leading up to the Blossomtime Parade on Saturday. Shown here (from the left) are: Miss Hartford Angela Saldana, Miss Coloma and Second Runner-up to Miss Blossomtime Micah Saxe, and Miss Watervliet Ellie Troyer. (Photo by Kristi Weston of K. West Photography)

As early as 1891, local area business interests took a proactive role in attracting visitors to Southwest Michigan with their promotion to the Chicago market. Hundreds of visitors made their way across Lake Michigan with the local steamship company. In 1906, Rev. W.J. Cady of the First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor was the first to urge his parishioners to drive through the local orchards to take in all the beauty of the fruit blossoms. Cady termed them “symbols of life renewed” and his sermon is credited with the birth of Blossomtime Festival. Community royalty begin a week full of activities. They will be traveling all over Southwest Michigan for the Goodwill tour, where kings and queens will tour the communities. These tours will include stops at elementary and middle schools and assisted living facilities.

Dinner with the Queens will be held at the Lake Michigan College Grand Upton Hall. This event includes all mayors, village presidents, city managers and officials of the respective communities. The gathering gives all the dignitaries the opportunity to present the keys to their cities to their respective royalty. In addition, the presentation of the queens’ charm bracelets is held. The history of the charm bracelet exchange began over 40 years ago. The bracelet includes charms with each queen’s photo in it. The community chairpersons make this presentation. The Youth Parade will be held on Thursday in Dickinson Stadium at St. Joseph High School. Youngsters from preschool through middle school participate in this event that starts at 5:00 p.m. It annually includes floats, bands, Scout Troops, 4-H groups, and the younger Blossomtime royalty.

Saturday morning brings the Run/Walk for the Buds event. In its 38th year, it has a 10K run and a 5K run/walk. It begins at 10:30 a.m. near the corner of Main and Ship streets in downtown St. Joseph and takes place along the Blossomtime Festival Parade route before the parade begins. The highlight of the week will be Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. with the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade. The 112th parade will feature over 100 units.

Tri-City communities have been very successful in the past few years bringing home countless honors for their parade floats. On Saturday morning prior to the parade, those winners will be announced.

The premier event which is the crown jewel of the festival attracts approximately 250,000 spectators and travels 2.5 miles through the community of St. Joseph and into the community of Benton Harbor.

Planning Commission packs Watervliet City Hall in medical marijuana discussion

By Annette Christie

The planned discussion on medical marijuana before the Watervliet City Planning Commission packed City Hall with over 30 people in attendance at their Monday, April 30 meeting.  After an hour and a half of discussion Planning Commission member Luke Strunk stated that they would continue to discuss this at every monthly meeting until a decision is made.

The discussion appeared to stem from some interest in locating some type of medical marijuana business on Main Street within the city limits.  Up until now, city officials have not taken a stand on the subject.  While it was suggested that the proposed building of interest may be the old bank building, that was not confirmed by the Planning Commission.  Chairman Joe Engel said that no decision has been made and no location has been selected and that the purpose of the meeting was to listen and to get feedback.  Although the Planning Commission could make a recommendation one way or the other, it will be the City Commission that ultimately decides. City Commissioners Duane Cobb, Bill Whitney Jr., and Mayor Dave Brinker were present.

Mark Smith, owner of The Green Door in Bangor said that his company worked with Bangor for about 3-4 mont