I have been known to welcome friends visiting our fair city with “Salutations from Cedar Springs where every fall we throw a party for underwear! Not only do we throw a party for underwear but on average 50 thousand of our friends show up to join in this merry making” I could not make this up. The folks in this room and their predecessors have been the grand master planners of this party for more than three quarters of a century. This party for underwear has been going on longer than space flight, microwave ovens, super glue, the atomic bomb, a vaccine for polio, credit cards, and McDonalds. Who back then could have imagined that an op-ed piece in the New York Times lamenting the death of the “union suit” would lead to the birth of our community’s tradition and identity.
A witty response in defense of a local business coupled with the overriding desire to march to our own drummer met an opportunity for good marketing. I will be forever grateful that those historical collisions created what we in Cedar Springs now consider to be our personal town holiday. I am certain the Clipper Gal founders Grace Hamilton and Nina Babcock would be thrilled to know the Festival has grown from the 2 of them to encompass an all-volunteer board of 9 people , 2 buildings , more than 30 events, spread out over the course of 2 weeks, put on by hundreds of volunteers, resulting in an average 1 million dollar economic foot print to the community and an incalculable amount of joy. I am honored and humbled to celebrate the opening of this building that is the bricks and mortar representation of the spirit of this community that is as enduring as the union suit and as warm as our Red Flannels . Here is to the past 75 years of Red Flannel Festivities with all the joy and memories that come with that and here also to the next 75 years may the flannels fly long.