Onaway’s ‘Greatest Fourth in the North’ cruises under sunny skies

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Spectacular summer weather was enjoyed during the 2016 Onaway Fourth of July celebration.
A grand fireworks display capped off the weekend’s worth of festivities. Earlier in the day, the nearly hour-long parade was enjoyed with bright sunshine and a steady breeze to keep parade goers cooled off.
The parade featured grand marshal Marty Mix and his family. Mix enjoyed the incredible honor of “being able to see so many friends and family and being part of such an amazing event our great community puts on. It was an amazing day!”

Hometown hero Marty Mix and his family were all smiles during Monday’s Fourth of July parade in Onaway.
Hometown hero Marty Mix and his family were all smiles during Monday’s Fourth of July parade in Onaway.

Mix was honored along with a host of other hometown heroes to go with the 2016 theme, including Celia Stutesman, who has served the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5857’s auxiliary for four decades.
Kenneth “Red” Painter was hailed as a hometown hero for all the miles he has walked over the years. The 83-year-old has walked over 250,000 miles, “10 times around the world,” as the sign on the side of the truck stated.
Pete Szala, one of Onaway’s most well-known and visible residents, was honored as the parade’s ambassador.
“Onaway was full of superheroes on Monday,” said Jessica Richards, Onaway Community Chamber of Commerce president. “We had everything, from veterans who fought to keep our independence; fireman and policemen who keep us safe; teachers and faculty who influence and inspire our youth; spiritual heroes, to the fictional characters we only see on television. The parade was fun for all ages.”
Miss Onaway Mackenzie Kolhoff-Parr and Little Miss Onaway Maggie Grant and their respective courts shared smiles and waves with parade goers on the parade route. It also was time for Tom Moran to unveil his latest metal creation, a Lobdell Emery train engine put together by his Industrial Arts institute students. They planned, designed and fabricated the 34 foot-long train.

The Moran float honored the memory of the 1926 fire at the city's main employer.
The Moran float honored the memory of the 1926 fire at the city’s main employer.

“It is the 90th anniversary of the Lobdell Emery fire and we wanted to do something to commemorate that,” said Moran, who donned a conductor’s hat and rang the train’s bell during the parade. “We wanted to add something iconic to our collection in Awakon Park. He added, “It is steel, lots of steel, and we like that.” It weighs about 10 tons, and is 14 feet tall and eight feet wide.
The Dancing Hippo Arts and Crafts show at the Onaway Courthouse lawn was sold out. There were 65 vendors and 70 spaces sold. “Every day was packed,” said Karen Silver, a member of the Onaway Historical Society board, which oversees the annual event since its arrival Onaway. “Most of the vendors did really well. The Dancing Hippo has danced her way into the hearts of Onaway residents.”
The Onaway VFW sold 600 barbecue chicken dinners, which was up from a year ago. There were two lines set up and less waiting, which may have contributed to the increase.
The giant salad bar at St. Paul Catholic Church had a really good turn out – maybe one of the best ever. The day before, the breakfast at the hall was described as outstanding and could easily be considered the best ever.
All indicators suggest the “Biggest Fourth in the North,” lived up to the hype.”
“After all of the volunteer effort that went into making this the ‘Best Fourth in the North,’ it’s great to hear all the positive feedback!” said Richards. During the water fight in the middle of town, the Onaway Fire Department reclaimed the trophy from Forest Waverly.
The parade winners are as follows:
1st- Onaway Assembly of God (Submerge Float)
2nd- Onaway Methodist Church (Jesus is our Superhero)
3rd – Kenneth “Red” Painter (10 Times Around the World)