As Channel 7 exits parade, Radio Disney enters

Parade Chairman Tim Crawford (left), Grant Mercer, Sara-Jane Dakroub and Jackie Buchanan and Linda Zabik of Genysis Credit Union.

The 61st annual Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade will march down Main Street Sunday.  Since it won’t be broadcast on live television this year, it’s the perfect time to come downtown and see the newly renovated streetscape.

This year’s parade kicks off at Rochester Road and Tienken at 2 p.m. Sponsored by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce, this year’s theme is Inside Santa’s Workshop. The parade will be recorded by Rochester Hills TV and rebroadcast on local cable access through December.

Parade Chairman Tim Crawford said broadcast television “wasn’t an option” this year. “Channel 7 decided to go a different direction. But they are going to cover the parade in the morning . . . as (it) is being set up.”

But just as one media partner departs, another enters. Radio Disney AM 910 will participate for the first time this year. The parade is the only Detroit-area event to participate in Disney’s Festival of Giving, a national campaign that partners with local charities and, nationally, Toys for Tots.

Festival of Giving is part of Radio Disney’s Project Family initiative, designed to inspire families to spend time together in an effort to make long-lasting, positive change at home, in their communities and in the world at large. The long-range goal, Crawford said, is to provide a way for young people, including those who need service credits, to sign up for volunteer opportunities.

“It is going to be small steps to something much grander,” he said.

A tent at Fourth and Main will accept donations for The Rainbow Connection, the Rochester Regional Community Collaboration and Toys for Tots. The Radio Disney Road Crew will be on site with music, games, interactive entertainment and prizes.

Another new parade feature this year is the Junior Grand Marshal program, which was launched by leaders in the community to encourage student involvement. This year’s winners were chosen during the first annual Rochester Student Leadership Retreat in June.

They are Adams High School seniors Grant Mercer and Sara-Jane Dakroub. Both have participated in community events and played pivotal roles in the foundation of the Rochester Regional Community Collaboration. They will receive $1,000 scholarships from Genisys Credit Union, a parade presenting sponsor, and will lead the parade alongside this year’s Grand Marshals, Ray and Ginny de Steiger.

Ray de Steiger is the semi-retired owner of Ray Electric; Ginny is a retired teacher. Married for 62 years, they have lived in Rochester Hills for almost 50 years and have been enthusiastically involved in many community organizations. Their family includes four children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“The boys were in the parade as Scouts, we had a baton twirler in the parade and our son David even had the job of walking behind the parade’s horses to keep the street clean,” Ginny de Steiger said. “The parade is such a big part of what we love and who we are. It is part of our values, and we are truly touched.”

The four grand marshals will be honored at a celebration Nov. 29 at Great Oaks Country Club from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and include hors d’oeuvres cash bar, live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Reservations are required; call (248) 651-6700 or reserve online at

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