The annual Cheeseburger Festival in the little town of Caseville is something that must be experienced to be known. Thousands upon thousands of people stream in to enjoy the ten-day “island getaway” themed festival which reveals itself in Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, and pink flamingos.
The height of the festival and certainly the most rambunctious activity offered is the Parade of Fools. The parade draws estimates of 15,000 people for the one-mile trek down main street. Most of the floats are business promoting themselves and local organizations participating in community fun while dressed in cheeseburger garb adorned with flamingo trimmings. As you might imagine, some of it can get a little over the top and the wise parent may have to shield young eyes, but one thing is for sure: people turn out in droves to witness the parade. The streets in Caseville are densely lined with people there to watch, gather candy and beads, and shout for the floats they like best. It’s not uncommon for it to last an hour and a half.
I never thought I would be in that parade, but as it turns out this year was my second year in a row. Last year I had the opportunity to walk with the Huron County Right To Life and this year it was the same. Several brave souls who encouraged each other found confidence to walk the giant party gauntlet. We joined together to spread the message of the value of God-given life in the womb to thousands. This is an intimidating task and venue, but the message is worth it. Some boo or hiss. Some give back the bookmarks with God’s truth of life on it. Some decline the simple pen or pencil with the message that even the smallest are loved by our Lord. Some deny the golden pin of the feet of a ten-week-old child. But some don’t! Many don’t! I heard cheers as our van with banners on either side saying, “Pro-woman, Pro-Child, Love Them Both” approached. Many accepted the handouts and the balloons which said, “Smile! Your mom chose life!” Twenty-somethings in ridiculous island garb shouted full-throated support! This gave us encouragement. Encouragement that we were not alone in standing up for life. Often what other people need is to see is that you need not be afraid to speak the truth and our voice gets louder together. It’s a voice that speaks for the voiceless and seeks to defend those who need someone to do it for them. One person yelled from the crowd, “Keep politics out of the parade!” Standing up for children isn’t politics, it’s a confession that any decent society needs because it’s matter of life and death for children. If we can’t see that this isn’t arbitrary politics but a necessity of any well-functioning group of people, then we are blind.
I led our small group in prayer before the parade started. We prayed that the Author of life, Jesus, would give us wisdom and courage to speak His truth. We prayed that He would soften hard hearts to see that all life is precious. We prayed that others would be encouraged to join in defending life.
May our Lord answer our prayers even in the midst of a Cheeseburger parade. He who is faithful will do it.
Editor’s Note: The Michigan March For Life will take place November 8 in Lansing followed by a post-march Lutheran Gathering at Hope, DeWitt. Join together with others for mutual encouragement! For more information, contact Pastor Paul Clark.
Photo © Jakub Jakoubek