By Judy Reed
The Red Flannel Festival board of directors has chosen Thomas Anderson, a long time Cedar Springs attorney, as the 2017 Grand Marshal for the 78th annual Red Flannel Festival.
Tom, who is now 82, was born in Grand Rapids, but raised in northern Kent County. He graduated high school from St. Patrick’s, in Parnell, Michigan, which is in Grattan Township. His father was an attorney in Rockford, and Tom decided to open up an office in Cedar Springs. “I knew my father got a lot of business from Cedar Springs, so I thought it would be a good idea,” he explained.
And it was. He opened up his office here in 1961, and continued working until he sold it in 2011—50 years later. During that time, he worked as Cedar Springs City attorney for many years, served as Kent City’s attorney for 30 years, and was attorney for the Village of Morley.
In 1963, Tom began announcing the Red Flannel Parade, and continued through 1990.
In 1962 he became a Rotarian, and has been one now for 55 years. Most years you can find him working at the Rotary Chicken BBQ on Red Flannel Day.
How does Tom feel about being selected as Grand Marshal? “I was surprised,” he said. “I guess it’s a good thing. I thought they had forgotten me.”
Not by a long shot.
“The Festival is extremely proud and thankful for the many years of Tom’s outstanding dedication to the Cedar Springs community,” said Randy VanDuyn, President of the Festival. “It’s very obvious Tom loves the Red Flannel Town, and especially the Red Flannel Festival! The Red Flannel Town is a better place because of his involvement and extraordinary volunteerism!”
Tom’s family also has close ties to Cedar Springs and Red Flannel. His wife, Jean, taught at Cedar Springs Public Schools for 30 years. And the couple’s three children all went to Tri County High School, participated in band all four years, and all marched in the Red Flannel parades.
This year’s Red Flannel Festival weekends will be September 30 and October 7. Anderson will reign this year, the Festival’s 78th, over the two weekends of the 15th oldest Festival in the state of Michigan, sharing the Red Flannel warmth of our community to visitors and residents.