Pro-life teen group uninvited last-minute from National Cherry Festival Parade

The Teens for Life group affiliated with Grand Traverse Area Right to Life was uninvited from the National Cherry Festival Community Royale Parade in Grand Traverse, Michigan, after being told that their initial acceptance was due to a “clerical oversight.” The group was scheduled to march in the parade on July 6, only to be told mere hours beforehand that their approval was revoked. The pro-life group has marched in the parade for years without issue and received confirmation of this year’s participation weeks ago.

But according to Right to Life Michigan, the parade organizer received “personal threats” this year, calling for her to repeal the group’s approval. Though the parade organizers admitted to calling law enforcement as a result of the threats, the only official reason they gave to the teens for the reversal was a “clerical error.”

“Our rules prevent us from allowing social or political entities from marching in our parade,” Cherry Festival Executive Director Kat Paye claimed in a statement. “We are not endorsing nor condoning the organization or their objectives; we are simply following our own policy and rules.” According to the Traverse Ticker, “The removal relates to the festival’s parade rules, which prohibit any floats or walking units that have a political bent or concern any ‘controversial’ or ‘social’ issue.”

However, some photos emailed to Live Action News from the event seem to show that controversial and social issues were indeed represented in the parade, despite this policy:

A local church displays the LGBTQIA+ flag on its banner while marching in the parade.


Marchers from a local church display signs calling for “racial justice” in the parade


A local church displays more signs in the parade related to political and social issues, with this one reading, “indigenous solidarity.”

“We are appalled that our next generation is being denied the chance to join their town in the annual Cherry Festival Parade, all in the name of intimidation and harassment and now a supposed clerical error. Our students look forward to peacefully walking with their community just as every other group who was approved gets the right to do so. We are proud of our students for being willing to outwardly march for life and we will continue to support them,” stated Emily Hollabaugh, Director of Grand Traverse Area Right to Life.


State Senator John Damoose also spoke in defense of the teens who were not allowed to march.

“The Community Royale Parade and the National Cherry Festival are supposed to just be fun. The Traverse City Teens for Life were excited to be part of the festivities,” he said. “These kids worked hard and made big plans for the parade with entertainment and custom t-shirts. Then, at the last minute – more than five weeks after being approved – they were canceled because of political pressure. Once again, grown up problems and politics are ruining things for our kids.”

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