I am a life-long resident of the Cedar Springs area. I have volunteered for many school, church and community projects including announcing the Red Flannel Parade for nearly 20 years and was Grand Marshal of the Red Flannel Day celebration in 2008. I also co-authored a book about Cedar Springs called The Cedar Springs Story. I’m proud to live here.
However, that being said, the recent dispute between the City of Cedar Springs and the Red Flannel Festival regarding the Red Flannel “image” has disappointed, angered, discouraged, embarrassed, and most of all, saddened me. I’m not alone in trying to understand this frustrating situation. When did Red Flannel Town and Cedar Springs become two different entities?
Since its inception, Cedar Springs has had many town celebrations. Before Red Flannel Day, there was Farmer’s Day and Beucus Days before that. Those “Days” (weekends) celebrated the town and the people who lived, worked, farmed, worshipped, owned businesses and raised their families here. Volunteers organized and ran the events (as they do now), bands marched with the help of school personnel and parades happened with the help of townspeople and the assistance of the village/town/city of Cedar Springs. People came into town to shop and celebrate the arrival of farm equipment on the railroad and crops and animals. It was Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton, the Clipper newspaper editors, who, in the midst of a cold winter, told the world we had red flannel underwear on our merchant’s shelves, and with the help of several businessmen, they originated Red Flannel Day. The symbol of that celebration has been red flannel underwear and Cedar Springs has been the Red Flannel Town since 1939!
Now that symbol is being removed from everything Cedar Springs. It’s a sad state of affairs! Our flaps are undone (and it is not a pretty sight)!
Before this situation becomes irrevocable, everyone just needs to step back, breathe, swallow their individual prides and sensibly come to a consensus about what can be done monetarily, fairly, and justly for everyone.
We need to button our flaps and get back the Red Flannel Town we’re proud of!