It's a tradition in Michigan to hope for good, or at least tolerable, weather during the local Christmas parade. A Battle Creek couple is especially hopeful this year.
The Battle Creek Christmas Parade, after all, will be the venue for the wedding of Phil O'Reilly and Jessie Schuemann.
"I still have faith it’s going to be beautiful," Schuemann said. The forecast for Saturday is a high of 42 degrees and possible snow.
O'Reilly and Schuemann will get hitched while riding on a blue and white float when it stops on the parade route in front of AccessVision at 70 W. Michigan Ave. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. and will move along Michigan Avenue in downtown Battle Creek.
The wedding music will be provided by the Harper Creek High School marching band, which will march ahead of the float.
The couple picked the unusual place to tie the knot because they met at the 2013 parade. Schuemann was attending a memorial for Caitlyn Jackson, a 12-year-old Battle Creek girl who died of leukemia in 2013. Schuemann, a professional photographer, asked an acquaintance if there were any men interested in a woman with six children.
The person on the other end of the question was Kim Brixton, who happened to be O'Reilly's co-host on local radio station WNWN-FM, known as "Win 98.5."
"Kim said, 'Why don’t you come to the parade and meet him,'" Schuemann said.
Now, she'll be with her six kids and soon-to-be-husband on a float Saturday. She thought maybe it was spiritual intervention from Jackson, who Schuemann said was like a little sister to her. O'Reilly said there was also some help from radio listeners when he put up a Facebook post asking where people would get married if they did so where they met.
"We were getting a lot of great comments, and someone had posted, 'the Battle Creek Christmas parade,'" O'Reilly said. "That’s kind of how it snowballed."
It wasn't such a crazy idea for a couple who got engaged at a Brad Paisley concert, while the country music artist played their song, "She's Everything."
O'Reilly talked to Jim Demarest of the parade's organizing group, the Harper Creek Optimist Club. He liked the idea, O'Reilly said, and Schuemann's friends Toni Mesecar and Melinda Jackson got to work on ideas.
"They’re thrilled," O'Reilly said of the parade officials. "The radio station’s thrilled. But most importantly, we’re thrilled."
The parade is considered the start of the holiday season in Battle Creek and coincides with the International Festival of Lights. Through Dec. 31, the downtown area will be decorated with electric displays of holiday scenes, such as a recreation of "The 12 Days of Christmas" on the back lawn of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
This year, the festival's warming house will be located in a heated tent at River'sEdge Ice Cream and Popcorn at 33 N. McCamly St. from 5 to 8 p.m. through Dec. 23. Children can visit Santa Claus 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 18.
Bands lined up to perform free concerts at the warming house on include Chameleon on Saturday, Tony Fields and Doug Decker on Nov. 23, Jake Kershaw on Nov. 25 and the Uprizin Steel Band on Nov. 26. More are scheduled for December.
Other warming tent offerings include the Small Business Marketplace, selling holiday gifts from rotating vendors and the Kids Corner, featuring Santa Claus, live reindeer, karaoke and arts and crafts. For full times and more information, go to www.bcfestivals.com/international-festival-of-lights