This year, the National Cherry Festival made history, cancelling the festival for only the second time in nearly 100 years. (The first time was during World War II.) We’ll all miss the beloved cherry celebration, none more so than the fantastic team that puts on the festival. We asked them to share some of their favorite memories over the years to keep the cherry love going during these challenging times.
“My favorite memory is working with my friend Jeff Nash in the Wheelchair Mile Race in the 1990s. It was my first taste of the festival life. It’s no secret that I love a parade, and my new favorite memory is picking up Paesano’s bread sticks before the parade and delivering them to the volunteers on the parade route with my sidekick Andrew.”
—Kat Paye, Executive Director
“Last year, I had the opportunity to show my niece what I do during Festival week. My niece was eight years old at the time, and to see her face light up as we visited the butterfly house or got ice cream from the ice cream tent was absolutely unforgettable.”
—Alexis Bremer, Operations Director
“I loved building the World’s Longest Cherry Ice Cream Sundae and seeing the Guinness Book of World Records celebrate our success. I remember seeing all of the kids and families enjoying a cherry sundae, including my sundae lovin’ daughter Hannah!”
—Susan Wilcox-Olson, Media Consultant
“As a kid, my love for Festival came from my dad. The Board of Directors used to take turns being ‘on duty’ in the evenings to give staff a break. My favorite times were coming down to the open space and hanging out with my dad when he was on duty. It is where I discovered the true festival spark.”
—Bailey Judson, Special Programs Director
“In 2010, I took my daughters (then four and two) and we chose to do everything we could! It was so much fun, from the air show to the midway to the free family fun activities we had the best time. Sadie couldn’t figure out how to peddle in the Big Wheel Race, so Kaia pushed her to the finish line.”
—Jessica Hodges, Administrative Manager
“It’s fun when our spouses get involved in helping with the National Cherry Festival events. My lovely wife, Jennifer, is always willing to assist or help with any task. We have created some great memories at the National Cherry Festival over the years!”
—Alex Zeliniski, Director of Corporate Partnerships
“As part of the operations team I have had the opportunity for many incredible experiences, like helping set up communications which took me to the roof of the Park Place to set an antenna.”
—Jody Hawkins, Administrative Assistant
“I’ve always been a Detroit Tigers baseball fan. During the 2004 Cherry Festival, I had the privilege of escorting longtime radio and TV sportscaster and Tigers play-by-play caller Ernie Harwell and his wife Lulu around the Festival grounds for a few days leading up to his perch as Grand Marshal for the DTE Energy Foundation Cherry Royale Parade.”
—Chuck O’Connor, Former Director of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships
“As former executive director, and more importantly, former elementary school prince of the National Cherry Festival, I have a carousel of vivid memories from Festivals past. In 2013, the band Styx was just concluding their performance on the Bayside Music Stage when, much to the surprise of most on the Festival grounds, airplanes covered in LED lights filled the sky for a night air show. It was pure magic.”
—Trevor Tkach, President/CEO of Traverse City Tourism
Thank you to the National Cherry Festival team for putting health and safety first and making the hard decision to postpone the festival until 2021. We appreciate all you do and can’t wait to celebrate next year!
For additional Cherry Festival and cherry information click here.