Cherry Festival

Every year our little town of 16,000 people swells to about 500,000 for the eight day National Cherry Festival. The Festival included 4th of July weekend so it’s the place to be in Michigan, and maybe Midwest. It’s starts with three air shows with performances by the US Navy Blue Angels.

National Cherry Festival July 2016 by Thomas Kachadurian, Photographer

The Blue Angels by Traverse City Photographer Thomas KachadurianThe Traverse City air show is something special. The Blue Angels have come to Traverse City about every other year for the last 30 or more years. People in this area have a real sense of ownership. As I’m sure they do in all communities, the Blue Angels hold an open house the day before the show at our Coast Gaurd air field. The Coast Gaurd base is right in the center of town so everyone shows up for the preview. Twenty years ago when I was teaching English at Northwestern Michigan College one of my students wrote a paper titled “Date with an Angel” about her experience as a companion for a visiting pilot. This community thinks of the Blue Angels as our own.

Unlike airshows that happen at airports and in open fields, the planes fly over west Grand Traverse Bay which allows crowds to gather on our miles of open public beaches and in the lake itself. There are huge yachts and kayaks dotting the bay. The Blue Angels did shows on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (the 4th) so I was able to get photographs both among the crowd on the beach and in the middle of the bay.

The Blue Angels by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

When the Blue Angels fly low over the water you feel it in a small craft.

ncf2016_0013The Cherry festival has to be one of the most photographed events all year, so I made a point to try to make some photos that might not be what all those people are getting with their smart phones. It’s not easy to keep it fresh at a festival that includes fireworks on two different nights, three parades, and several events like pie eating and pit spitting. There’s also a beer tent, and lot’s of sunburn. For me it meant lots of walking, crowds, and a very dark tan.

Here’s some photos.

West Grand Traverse Bay by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

Every parade starts with a fly-over by a Coast Guard helicopter. I skipped one parade but got the chopper heading back.

The National Cherry Festival by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

Elvis and Priscilla

Clinch Park Beach by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

The National Cherry Festival Parade by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

West Grand Traverse Bay by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

From where I was standing when I shot this peaceful landscape, all you could hear was 1964 The Tribute, a Beatles band on the Festival stage, mixing with and thumping Rap beats from the Arnold’s Midway across the street. The Cherry Festival is a paradox.

The National Cherry Festival by Traverse City Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

For some reason the huge crowds are also an invitation for proselytism.

National Cherry Festival July 2016 by Photographer Thomas Kachadurian

The National Cherry Festival always ends with Fireworks. While this photos is a little on the nose, I couldn’t help myself.

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