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      An international celebration in the Keweenaw

      A sea of international color splashed downtown Hancock Saturday morning.

      The Parade of Nations proudly marched across the Portage Lift Bridge into Houghton, drawing cheering members of the community. The 65 nationalities were made up of mostly students from Michigan Technological University and Finlandia University.

      "I think it adds diversity, it adds, what I like to say, color and richness to the community," said Darnishia Slade, the lead organizer of the event. "Otherwise people from the community would not be able to experience the food and the culture and traditions from other places."

      Following the parade, over 3,000 people packed Houghton's Dee Stadium. That's where the various nationalities served up authentic food, displayed crafts, and provided live entertainment.

      The Parade of Nations event helps introduce people to different cultures and, in turn, helps international students get adjusted to life up in the Keweenaw.

      "It definitely helps us to overcome the culture shock, especially for the new students, to see that they're not alone," said Pruthul Ravindranaeh, a graduate student at Michigan Tech.

      Organizers say the Parade of Nations has grown exponentially over the years, and what used to be a history lesson has turned into a community-wide celebration.

      "I'm just glad to see the tradition still be carried out," said Betty Chavis, the founder of the Parade of Nations. "It's vital to this community to let everyone know that we have a very rich, rich culture here in the Keweenaw. It's bigger and better than ever."

      In the coming days, organizers will have a post-parade meeting to discuss plans for next year's event and brainstorm ideas for the upcoming 25th anniversary.