People march along Houghton waterfront for annual Parade of Nations
Over 200 people, including Michigan Tech and Finlandia students, represent at least 40 countries
HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - On Saturday morning, a parade celebrating countries around the world returned to Houghton County.
Music, cheers and different cultures were present for the 32nd annual Parade of Nations. Since 1989, the Houghton and Hancock communities, including students from Michigan Tech University and Finlandia University, have marched to celebrate countries around the world.
Bob Wenc, who had helped with the parade for at least 29 years, was this year’s grand marshal.
“It’s so wonderful to see all of the international students and also locals who want to march behind their nation of origin,” said Wenc.
Over 200 people, including international students, walked down Lakeshore Blvd. to represent at least 40 nations, including Israel, Thailand, Iraq, Peru, and the United States. Tyler Watungwa, a senior at Finlandia, represented Canada.
“I did it my sophomore year, and it was a really cool experience,” Watungwa said. “I honestly didn’t realize how much diversity there was in the area, and so it was cool to see everyone coming out and representing their country.”
After no event last year, the parade’s creator, Betty Chavis, says it is remarkable what both schools did to bring back one of Houghton County’s biggest events.
“It’s been hard, and I understand that there has been a lot of constraints,” she stated. “But, they made it. Just the fact that we’re here with so many colors, I feel really grateful and happy.”
Watungwa says he has felt welcomed with open arms.
“Obviously, coming from a different country, I really appreciate just being accepted and respected here,” he said. “I get that just from watching how everyone treats the countries as well.”
The Multicultural Festival that typically follows the parade did not take place because of COVID-19 concerns. The hope is for that to come back next year.
Parade organizers and participants hope people will remember we are one world, and therefore, one family.
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