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Memorial Day 2022 events planned for Kalamazoo area, including Fort Custer ceremony

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KALAMAZOO, MI — After two years without many Memorial Day ceremonies and activities taking place due to the pandemic, parades and services are returning to Southwest Michigan in 2022.

Two of the weekend’s marquee events will occur at Fort Custer over the weekend, beginning with a flag-placing ceremony Saturday, May 28 at the Fort Custer National Cemetery, 15501 Dickman Road, in Augusta.

By day’s end, over 23,000 flags are expected to have been placed on the graves of veterans who are interred at the cemetery, a news release from the cemetery states. The public is welcome to attend and help place flags. Those wishing to help are asked to arrive by 8 a.m.

The annual Memorial Day event, for the first time since 2019, will then take place at the cemetery grounds at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29. Included in the program will be patriotic music by the Cereal City Concert Band and the Kalamazoo Area Pipers, a flyover by the renowned Hooligans Flight Team, a speech from Ret. Navy Lt. Com. T. R. Shaw, Jr., the laying of wreaths to fallen heroes and numerous other events.

“As we reflect on the cost of freedom we know how important it is to honor those individuals who have preserved that special gift for us,” said Deborah G. Owens, chairperson of the Fort Custer National Cemetery Advisory Committee. “That is what we do at the Fort Custer National Cemetery.”

Owens said she hopes those who attend this year’s events will not only honor those sacrifices but leave with a warmth in their heart for those who made them.

Kalamazoo Memorial Day

The Military Color Guard participates in a ceremony at the Riverside Ceremony following the 2019 Memorial Day Parade in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (MLive file photo)

Also returning for the first time since 2019 is the Kalamazoo Memorial Day Parade and ensuing service, co-sponsored by Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. youth organization and the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo Sunrise.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 30 in front of the Kalamazoo County courthouse at 227 W. Michigan Ave., heads east down Michigan Avenue, north on Riverview Drive and east on Gull Road, ending at Riverside Cemetery at 1015 Gull Road, where a ceremony will follow the parade’s conclusion at 11 a.m.

“We are very, very excited,” said Charles Parker, executive director of Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. and incoming president of Kalamazoo Sunrise. “It’s been two long years of nothing going on.

“It’s important to celebrate our veterans, both fallen and present, who served our country well, so we can have the rights and the freedom we have today.”

Parker said while Memorial Day is traditionally a day to honor those who have fallen it is important to take the time to honor those veterans who are still with us as well.

“We sometimes take them for granted, so it’s important to let them know that we appreciate them,” he said. “I always tell people that it’s good to give people the flowers while they’re alive, to let them know we really appreciate them.”

Among the highlights at the ceremony will be a musical presentation from a combined band made up of the Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix High School bands, Parker said.

Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided for those who need one, he said.

Some other events happening in the Kalamazoo area include:

Portage Memorial Day Service: Hosted by American Legion Post 207, the service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, May 30 in Veterans Memorial Park, 300 Library Lane. The Portage Memorial Day Parade, traditionally hosted by VFW Post 5855, will not be held for the third consecutive year.

South Haven Memorial Day Parade: The South Haven Memorial Day Parade will commence at 9 a.m., Monday, May 30 at the intersection of Center Street and Michigan Avenue, head north to Phoenix Street and east toward Lakeview Cemetery, 191 Bailey Ave., where a ceremony will be held to remember fallen veterans.

Hickory Corners: A pancake breakfast will get the day started from 7-9:30 a.m. at the Hickory Corners Fire Department, 14505 Kellogg School Rd. and be followed with the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. sharp. The parade begins at Cadwallader Park, proceeds east through town and ends at the East Hickory Corners Cemetery, where a ceremony will be held to honor fallen veterans.

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Course, events schedule announced for Zeigler Kalamazoo Half Marathon in April

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KALAMAZOO, MI — On your marks, get set, know where and when to go.

The Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon released a schedule of events and course maps Monday, March 14, for this year’s 5K run and walk, 10K run, and half marathon. All of the events will take place Sunday, April 24, in downtown Kalamazoo.

Related: Kalamazoo Marathon returning in 2023, with shorter runs planned for April 2022

It will be the first time the races are run downtown, organizer Chris Lampen-Crowell told MLive previously. Lampen-Crowell is co-owner of Gazelle Sports, and a former Western Michigan University distance runner.

This year will also mark the first time the races are run under the Ziegler sponsorship, after years of Ascension Borgess serving as the event’s title sponsor.

One race that won’t be run this year, but will return in 2023 is the full marathon.

The 40th year of the event in 2019 was also the last year the marathon was run in-person as the Borgess Run for the Health of It Kalamazoo Marathon. In 2020, race registrations were filling up, but the pandemic caused organizers to go virtual instead, Lampen-Crowell said. The 2021 event was canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic wore on.

“We are very aware of this race’s legacy in Kalamazoo (and) it was very important for us to help bring it back for the community,” said Aaron J. Zeigler, president and owner of Zeigler Auto Group.

Zeigler, a veteran marathoner, called race weekends a family affair. He commented that his daughter has run and won the 5K, and his wife and son have participated as well.

“There’s so much excitement around the races, and to show up on a Sunday with nine or ten thousand other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re running the half marathon … or the 5K,” Ziegler said.

A full weekend of events for this year’s event kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, April 22, with a free 1K kid’s fun run and expo at Mayors Riverfront Park.

Registration is open now for all races and begins at $30 for the 5K run/walk, $40 for the 10k and $80 for the half marathon. Registration costs will increase $5 per race on April 1.

Race packets for kids will be available for pickup Thursday, April 21, at Gazelle Sports, 214 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

Race packets for runners in the three Sunday races will be available for pickup at the main sponsor expo, scheduled for 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, April 23, at Arcadia Creek Festival Place, 145 E. Water St.

All races will start and end at the intersection of East Water and North Edwards streets, adjacent to Arcadia Creek Festival Place. The half marathon will begin at 7:30 a.m. on race day, followed by the 10K at 7:45 a.m. and the 5K run/walk at 8 a.m.

Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University are located near mile 2 of the half marathon route, with the Zeigler Zone near mile 6, the Bacon Station near mile 10, the Living Strong on Long Road Mile near the 11th before the course finally heads back towards Burdick Street and the Kalamazoo Mall for the finish line at the “Stryker Finish Festival.”

To view all three courses online, visit

“The vision for this event is really to build a healthy culture in Kalamazoo for everybody,” Lampen-Crowell said. “It really is an event that celebrates coming together and moving and creating fitness opportunities, not just for that day or that weekend, but actually leading up to it and then continuing for the rest of the year.

“The essence of this event is really about community health.”

In addition to Zeigler Auto and Gazelle Sports, sponsors for this year’s event include Ascension Borgess, Greenleaf Hospitality, Imperial Beverage, Stryker, Pfizer, AVB and Discover Kalamazoo.

Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are still available. For more information on either, please contact race director Carrie Drake at 269-350-4828.

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