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The Grand Floral Parade in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor is held on the first Saturday in May in conjunction with the Blossom Time Festival, the oldest and largest multi-community festival in the state of Michigan. It takes place on Main Street starting in St. Joseph, crossing over the bridge and ending in Benton Harbor.

According to the Blossom Time Festival website the festival was started in 1906 inspired by the regions many orchards.

Influenced by a growing agricultural industry, 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 orchards and view the fruit blossoms. Cady termed them “symbols of life renewed” and his sermon is credited with the birth of the Blossomtime Festival.

Governor Rick Snyder will head up the procession as grand marshal with an honor guard from the Berrien County Sheriffs Department and the Berrien County Mounted Division. Also scheduled to take part in the parade are U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; state Rep. Sharon Tyler, R-Niles; and state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville.

Chris (Eclectablog) and I got to Benton Harbor around noon, parked in Benton Harbor and walk the parade route to the start of the parade in St. Joseph. On our walk, we observed a few things. First of all, there were a ridiculous amount of police cars and officers blocking the roads to the Benton Harbor parade route. I only saw one police car in St. Joseph at one of the road blocks to the parade route. All the other roads were blocked by the standard barricades.

Right before crossing the two bridges over to St. Joseph were a few hundred, mostly white, mostly union, and mostly dressed in red, protesters. That appeared to be the largest gathering of protesters along the route. There were a few other spots with small groups of protesters holding signs.

The Parade began at 1:00 p.m. and it started with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team followed by three cars, two of which were police cars, and then Governor Snyder’s group. He was walking with two bodyguards. The three of them were walking behind two officers on motorcycles and two girls caring a sign that read “Grand Marshal Honorable Governor Rick Snyder” and a traditional color guard. Following the governor was one police officer and a black SUV. What I observed as I followed the Governor through the 1.8 mile parade route was pretty offensive, in my opinion.

Follow me through the images to see what I observed as I walked (more like ran) the route along with Governor Snyder. He walked the nearly 2 mile route in 39 minutes. No time was wasted, no hands shaken, no real stops, nothing but a fast steady walk that ended in quick disappearance, at the end of the parade, into the black SUV. The end happened so fast that I was unable to get a photograph of him getting into the car.

Several police officers gathered at the Main St. and Riverview Rd. in Benton Harbor shortly after crossing the bridge. Although I was unsure of why there were so many there I will come to find out later.

The next two photos show the protesters gathering on the north side of the bridge on the Benton Harbor side of the parade route. They were mostly white and their signs and shirts showed that they were mostly union protesters.

Typical parade barricade and parade watchers on the St. Joseph end of the route. It felt and looked very much like any parade. People in chairs and on blankets with lots of children and the wonderful smells that you would smell at a festival.

My first view of the Governor.

This photograph shows all of the protection he had with him on the first half of the parade route in St. Joseph. Two bodyguards, two motorcycle cops, one on foot and the SUV. He was all smiles during the first half of the parade and waved a lot. A few shouts from the crowed, “great job, Governor. Keep up the good work!” and frequent applause. I could hear the marching bands following.

We leave St. Joseph and descend across the bridge to Benton Harbor. As he makes his way across, I see a few golf carts driven by more police officers begin to approach the Governor and his entourage.

Here is the view facing north as I am coming to the end of the bridge into Benton Harbor. Just about everyone in the next stretch are the union protesters all standing and all very vocal. I start hearing the shouts and chants of the protesters calling for the recall of Governor Snyder.

Union (and other) protesters with their backs to the Governor as he passes, sober-faced and looking forward.

Remember the officers from the first image? Well, this is where they peel into the parade, at Riverview Dr. past the protesters and before entering the main part of downtown Benton Harbor where parade-goers were set up to see the parade.

You can see the people in the crowd watching the parade. Not really any protesters except a few dozen who are running along the sidewalks following the Governor after he passed them at the beginning of the Benton Harbor route. I just find it offensive that the security wasn’t really ramped up until after the main group of protesters but for the rest of the route which appeared to me to be regular folks, there to see the parade -- only this time mostly black.

His now super large entourage of security closes in to him and looks as if they are on high alert. You can see a few of the union protesters in the back following along on the sidewalk.

Not looking so much like a parade, is it?

Here is a good image showing all the other police vehicles lining the streets around the Governor in addition to the two golf carts.

Just about at the end here. By the end of the Benton Harbor part of the parade there were 10-12 walking Berrien County police officers, several state police officers on motorcycle, several police-driven golf carts and a few four wheelers. I found it very offensive that they felt the need for such a  tight and secure barrier around Governor Rick Snyder as he walked through Benton Harbor.

For more and larger photos, visit the Anne Savage Photography Politics in Pictures blog.

Originally posted to Politics in Pictures on Sun May 08, 2011 at 12:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Highly recommended diary (10+ / 0-)

    Really tells a story and, like my wife, I was offended by the assumption that Governor Snyder would need physical protection from the residents of Benton Harbor but not from the mostly-white protesters.

    Most interestingly, the residents of Benton Harbor seemed rather perplexed at all the white folks running around in red with signs, chanting and shouting "Recall Rick!" It seemed as though most of them really didn't even know who Snyder was and were more entertained/puzzled by the protesters.

    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
    -- Dr. Peter Venkman

    by Eclectablog on Sun May 08, 2011 at 12:26:37 PM PDT

    •  If indeed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, Eric Nelson

      many residents didn't know who Snyder was, I certainly hope that organizers had information to pass around to enlighten them!

    •  did you get any good float pictures? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      I used to love the Blossom Parade every year.  All the beautiful floats with flower blossoms.  We used to walk down Pipestone to Main St and watch it every year.  I grew up in BH from 1954-1966.  My parents owned a store in BH.  It saddens me to see what the city has become.  Unfortunately, BH has been going downhill since the 60's riots they had there.  

      I'm surprised the Gov. actually walked through BH, even with the protection.  I'm not too surprised at the locals reaction, as many of them struggle to get by and aren't involved in politics.  Many of the locals worked for Whirlpool until they closed all the local plants.  It's sad that they take the BH lake/river side and make it into a golf course, IMO.  I used to love going to Jean Klock Park on Lake Michigan in BH.  I don't know all the issues, but it seems like Whirlpool found it more profitable to throw the BH people under the bus, IMHO.  That's the problem in the Corporate controlled Govt. that the GOP endorses.  They want to eliminate public schools and take funding away from those who need it most.

  •  Looks like a parade in Rumania under Ceausescu (5+ / 0-)

    Surprised Gov Ricky didnt add armored personnel carriers with machine guns on each flank. He's obviously a real secure guy. Especially when there are fearsome dark skinned 13 year olds nearby.

  •  The police were his guardians, and he hurt them! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hopi13, moose67, ladypockt, Eric Nelson

    The very persons he has so insulted with his policies against unions is charged with his safety. Good for them, that they could stomach the RAT and good they did their jobs. Too bad they had to spend the day taking care of the charlatan. He needed protection in Benton Harbor because he was there to say "in your face" and insult the people with his presence. He was saying I know what is best and you just do what you are told and "all will be better". How sick. Rick Snyder is an arrogant egoist who has no  place in governance in a democracy, he would be right at home in medieval England where the feudal system was in full sway.

    E.McCarthy:"Republicans feed the sparrows by first feeding the horses".

    by CarmanK on Sun May 08, 2011 at 12:51:46 PM PDT

  •  He got guts, I'll give him that. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I found it very offensive that they felt the need for such a  tight and secure barrier around Governor Rick Snyder as he walked through Benton Harbor."

    If my governor took away my city's democratic rights, well, I'm amazed he showed up at all. Didn't we fight a revolution over these things? So the extra security where he's not at all popular shouldn't be a surprise.

    "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." - Stephen Colbert

    by Rob Dapore on Sun May 08, 2011 at 12:53:45 PM PDT

  •  Just the "wrong" type of folks in Benton (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Harbor for him.  I am suprised he didn't have a helicopter gunship overhead.

  •  I'm shocked, I say shocked that the police (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    presence would more than triple as the gov. moved from the white city to the black's that Repub. fear of the "others" - like our President.  Racism is behind much of what is going on in education, health care, economics, jobs, women's rights, immigration policy, DADT, gun laws, etc.  Repubs just don't like any change that might give an advantage to the non-whites or anybody different than the white guys who have always been in charge.  Snyder doesn't have guts - he's a fool
    who thinks he's in control and I think you'll seen him thrown out of office by the end of the summer.  By the way, where are all the floats or flowers at this "Blossomtime" parade?  It seems to be just the gov., cops, some horses and marching band(s).  

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." A. Einstein

    by moose67 on Sun May 08, 2011 at 01:33:11 PM PDT

  •  What did this little stunt cost the taxpayers (0+ / 0-)

    of his cash-strapped state?

  •  Wonder how Synder would like it (0+ / 0-)

    if the parade goers followed the lead of the Tea Party and exercised their "right" to carry weapons.

    I mean, he should be cool with that, right?

    explain how letting gays marry will directly affect your own heterosexual relationship?

    by bluestatesam on Sun May 08, 2011 at 04:00:32 PM PDT

  •  Honorable Rick Snyder? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not going to even comment further.

    Recall Rick.

    Support Fair Trade. Buy American! Keep jobs at home. I am a populist who is non-interventionist on foreign policy.

    by John Lane on Mon May 09, 2011 at 01:55:36 PM PDT

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