By Judy Reed
The Red Flannel Festival presented the city with a large wooden Red Flannel medallion, called the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion, to replace the one originally commissioned by Merlington, a longtime council member and former mayor who has since passed away. They presented the medallion at a special meeting of the City Council last Friday evening.
The original medallion that hung on the city’s wall for many years was destroyed after a cease and desist letter was sent by the Red Flannel Festival to the City.
Resident Kathy Bremmer told the Council that if the threat of a lawsuit still stands, then the council would be in violation of the law if they instruct the City Manager to hang the medallion on the wall.
Mark Fankhauser, a Keystone Cop and former Mayor of Cedar Springs, commended the Festival for honoring Merlington, and said he was a phenomenal individual. “But there are concerns that council has to address,” he noted. “Both entities can survive independently. I don’t think we need to blend the logos. Regardless, Cedar Springs will always be known as the Red Flannel Town.”
Councilor Rose Powell said it was not a logo, but a symbol of the community’s culture. “It goes beyond being a sign. Hopefully it will restore our city as the Red Flannel Town,” she said.
Councilor Perry Hopkins said he didn’t know Merlington, but thought it would be honorable to honor him. “If we could have the cease and desist removed, it would be an honorable thing to hang on the wall,” he said.
“I don’t think the division is what Ronny would want for us,” said Councilor Dan Clark. “I hope hanging this would be some type of unification.”
Red Flannel President Michele Tracy and the board was in attendance for the presentation, and so was Shirley Merlington, Ronny’s wife, and this year’s RFF Grand Marshal. Ronny was Grand Marshal in 1994.
The Cedar Springs Red Flannel committee and the Red Flannel Festival will meet Thursday evening, June 4, at 5:30 p.m., at the Creative Technologies lounge to discuss a potential Red Flannel Festival agreement.