The committee for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan, faced controversy after revoking approval for a pro-life teen group to march in the Cherry Festival Community Royale parade. The Grand Traverse Area Teens for Life, a youth chapter of the Grand Traverse Area Right to Life, had received confirmation of their approval weeks in advance but were removed less than 24 hours before the parade, citing a “clerical error.”
According to Right to Life of Michigan, the festival’s executive director, Kat Paye, received threatening messages regarding the teens’ participation, leading to their removal from the event. The pro-life group has been marching in the Cherry Festival parade for years and expressed disappointment at being denied the opportunity to join their community in the annual event.
The festival claimed that their rules prevent social or political entities from marching in the parade. However, this policy does not appear to be strictly enforced as other parades during the Cherry Festival featured government representatives, including Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. State Senator John Damoose, founder of the Michigan legislative Pro-Life Caucus, defended the teens and expressed concern about their removal, stating that politics should not interfere with children’s enjoyment of the festival.
The decision to exclude the pro-life teens has generated backlash and calls to contact the National Cherry Festival to express dissatisfaction. The incident highlights the ongoing debate over the inclusion of social and political groups in community events and raises questions about the festival’s enforcement of their own policies.