GVSU contingent to march in Cherry Festival Parade

Laker cheerleaders, Louie and alumni and friends march in the 2009 Cherry Festival parade.
Laker cheerleaders, Louie and alumni and friends march in the 2009 Cherry Festival parade.
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Grand Valley will kick off its 50th anniversary celebration, and 15th anniversary of the Traverse City Regional Center, in style at the National Cherry Festival.

Events will begin Friday, July 9, with an alumni reception at the Holiday Inn West Bay, 615 E. Front St., from 6-8 p.m. For more information, or to RSVP, visit www.gvsu.edu/alumni/events.

A large Grand Valley contingent will participate in the National Cherry Festival Parade on Saturday, July 10. Participants include President Thomas J. Haas and his wife, Marcia Haas, 50 marching band members, dance team, cheerleaders and other alumni and friends. The Padnos College of Engineering and Computing is expected to enter two of its Baja off-road vehicles in the parade.

There is still time to register to participate in the parade. RSVP by July 1 online at www.gvsu.edu/alumni/cherryfestival. Grand Valley participants are encouraged to meet at the Northwestern Michigan College University Center at 8:15 a.m. for breakfast. There will be a shuttle to the parade start.

A special location
Grand Valley began offering courses at the University Center in 1995. Traverse City is quite special for Grand Valley's president and his wife, Marcia Knapp Haas. The couple met in Traverse City 40 years ago when Marcia was a member of the National Cherry Festival queen's court and Tom served as her escort for the week's activities.

Marcia served as Miss Branch County in 1970, the year she graduated from Union City High School, and was invited to participate in the Cherry Festival. Escorts for the young women were arranged through the U.S. Coast Guard, as the cutter Mackinaw was docked in town for the week and full of young Coast Guard Academy cadets.

“It turned out to be one of the luckiest moments of my life,” Marcia said.

Marcia added that she knew Tom was quite special when he talked to the first-grade students who served as princes and princesses of the court. “He got down on his knee and talked to each one of them, and I thought, well, I'm going to school to be a first-grade teacher, so this might be special,” she said.

Marcia used her scholarship money from the pageant to attend Albion College and continued seeing Tom, who graduated with honors from the Coast Guard Academy in 1973. They married the following year. “One can only hope that you meet your mate who becomes your best friend,” Tom said.

“We absolutely think of Traverse City as very special to us and have been in that wonderful city several times,” Marcia said.