Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, September 11, 2016, pg. 6

I encourage my readers of this column to drop by my Albion History booth at the Festival of the Forks this Saturday, September 17 in front of First Merit Bank in the center of downtown Albion. Iíll have my Albion history books and materials available for sale, as well as other items. Drop by and look over the materials Iíve prepared.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Festival of the Forks. Did you attend the first one back in 1967? I did as a youth growing up here. It started out as a food and ethnic festival, featuring various countries from around the world, concluding with a massive Saturday evening parade. As the years went by and our local conditions changed, the Festival emphasis was changed in order to keep it fresh and relevant. We are fortunate that the Festival has survived, and has proved itself to be uniquely Albion . It definitely has become a part of our heritage.

Prior to the Festival, Albion had various "one time" or "short-run" celebrations from time to time that didnít last. One of them occurred on August 19-21, 1915, when Albion held a special Homecoming Celebration for its residents and former residents. (Note: This was NOT Albion College Homecoming as could be easily surmised by the title). Hundreds of persons attended this first-such celebration the city ever had. Downtown Albion buildings were decked with regalia for this major celebration. There were various events and programs the entire weekend which included a 10-mile motorcycle race, horse races, a baseball game, a band concert, a community dance on the brick pavement on W. Erie St., speeches by dignitaries such as the Hon. Washington Gardner and Dr. Samuel Dickie, an exhibition drill by the local Knights of Pythias lodge, a parade with 150 floats and automobiles, airplane rides, a ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, and yes, high school class reunions.

One big feature you couldnít miss was a huge homecoming arch covered with white cloth stating "Welcome Home" in electric lights located at the S. Superior/Erie St. intersection in front of the Peabody Block. It was erected by Fred C. Sackett and his work crew and took ten days to erect. This arch contained 510 incandescent bulbs which were lit during the evening, including the "Welcome Home" banner on top. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of that arch.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Festival of the Forks this upcoming weekend, we too, say "Welcome Home" to everyone who comes. Enjoy the day, enjoy what Albion has to offer, and Iíll see you there at my Albion History booth.

Homecoming arch one August circa 1915


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