Parade of Nations Brings a World of Food and Festivities to the Keweenaw

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Community residents from Nepal showcase the traditional clothing of their homeland during a past Parade of Nations.
Community residents from Nepal showcase the traditional clothing of their homeland during a past Parade of Nations.

It’s become a fall tradition in Houghton and Hancock: mid-September means exotic foods, native costumes, music and dancing from around the world. In other words, it’s Parade of Nations time.

The 22nd annual Parade of Nations is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17.  The annual celebration of the multicultural nature of the Michigan Tech community has been growing in popularity every year. 

The cities of Houghton and Hancock and Finlandia University partner with Michigan Tech to help make the event a community-wide gala.  This year for the first time the Parade of Nations has named a community honorary chair, Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes.

More than 60 countries will be represented in the parade and the multicultural festival that follows at the Dee Stadium, featuring the Limanya Drum and Dance Ensemble. The West African performers showcase the musical and dance traditions of Guinea. The group is led by Mandjou Mara, a master djembe player and griot (praise singer) from Guinea, West Africa.

Blizzard T. Husky and Riku F. Lion, mascots at Michigan Tech and Finlandia University, are joining the parade this year. Parade marshal is Tech’s retiring Dean of Students Gloria Melton.

Businesses in Houghton and Hancock have been invited to decorate their storefronts for the Parade of Nations, and there will be a prize for the best decorations.

“We urge everyone to wear their native or ancestral costumes to the Parade of Nations, whether they plan to march or watch,” said Bob Wenc, publicity chair for the event.

The parade begins at 11 a.m. in front of the old Hancock Middle School in downtown Hancock. It will cross the bridge and move east on Shelden Avenue through downtown Houghton to the traffic signal, where it will turn left and head for the Dee Stadium.

From noon to 4 p.m., the Dee will be the site of international feasting, stage entertainment, and free pony rides, face painting and supervised arts and crafts for the children.  Admission is free.

Food will be prepared by cooks representing at least 15 nations, including Thailand, Italy, India, Mexico, China, Japan, and of course, Finland.  Khana Khazana (“food treasure”) a group of international student cooks at Michigan Tech, will serve Thai, Middle Eastern and Indian food.   Michigan Tech’s Thai Student Association will cook the Thai dish that topped the CNN poll of the 50 most delicious foods in the world:  spicy, coconut-rich, sweet and savory Massaman curry.    

The Parade of Nations Multicultural Festival also features crafts of many countries.  Entertainment includes two performances by the headline act, the Limanya Drum and Dance Ensemble, as well as performances by the Copper Country Cloggers, the Kivajat Finnish Dancers, the Michigan Tech Indian Student Association and Chinese Student and Scholars Association, and Conventus Discessio, Tech’s international student band.    

Eagle Radio is handling the sound for the Dee Stadium entertainment, and the station’s Mark Wilcox will emcee the event, with Michigan Tech Police Chief Dan Bennett providing “color commentary.” 

There will even be a chance to take home a cash prize. Tickets will be sold during the multicultural festival for a 50/50 raffle, with a drawing scheduled during the afternoon performances. The winner must be present to claim the prize, which is half the cash collected from the sale of raffle tickets. The rest of the proceeds help support the Parade of Nations. 

For more information on the parade and floats, contact Sezi Fleming,, 906-487-2920.

For more information on the Multicultural Festival food and entertainment, contact Bob Wenc,, 906-482-2160, or see Parade of Nations.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

Last Modified 8:42 a.m. March, 27 2019