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Rudolph’s red nose will help guide Santa’s sleigh into town for Friday’s Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade. The parade begins at 10 a.m. in Grosse Pointe Farms and heads down Kercheval through the Village. photo by Brad Lindberg.

November 22, 2012
THE GROSSE POINTES — The De LaSalle Collegiate Marching Band is in step with the Christmas spirit.

A staple of recent Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parades, the 45-member band this year waived its appearance fee.

"Marching in the parade is a holiday tradition, something I felt is beneficial to our guys and the community," said Michael Szczegielniak, the school's music director.

Terri Berschback, in her 10th year as parade director, cashed in on the gesture.

"This is the worst year I've had raising funds," she said.

Band are a big part of the parade's tradition.

"It would be deathly quiet along the parade route if I couldn't pay for marching bands," Berschback said.

Each band charges an average of $1,200.

"I've never had to cancel a band before this year," Berschback said. "De LaSalle said they'd do it for free."

The parade, presented by Pentastar Aviation, starts at 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 23.

The route is from Lewiston and Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Farms, through the Hill to the lower Village commercial district in the City of Grosse Pointe.

Santa Claus brings up the rear and receives the key to the community.

"I took my kids to the parade when they were little," Berschback said. "Now, they're taking their kids. It's what you do the day after Thanksgiving. Everyone's in town."

New this year is another addition from the Friends of the Grosse Pointe Parade.

The non-profit group of parade philanthropists added a motorized sleigh, christened the Grosse Pointe White Christmas Carriage, to their fleet of floats.

For this year's parade, Berschback lined up eight marching bands, nearly 60 community groups and, for the first time, Ronald McDonald.

Of 10 fire trucks, one is a 1937 Seagrave sedan from the Detroit Fire Department.

"I'm putting them behind the Detroit Fire Department band," Berschback said.

Returning this year are the loyal, calm and always friendly representatives of the Grosse Pointe chapter of Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan.

Chapter leader, Ro Arabia, of Grosse Pointe Farms, rides the parade route this year in a vintage car provided by the Grosse Pointe Historical Society.

Also returning is the Redford Township Unicycle Club.

"You can't do a parade without unicycles," Berschback said.

A jazz band float from the Parade Company is sponsored by the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in the Farms.

Mainly, though, the parade is a small town affair highlighting youth and community groups.

"Everything's there, from the Detroit Mounted Police to the littlest Brownie," said Dale Scrace, City mayor.

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