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St. Patrick’s Day Party
Late in 1982, one of the “family” members was notified of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held, traditionally, in downtown Detroit on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day. Would Holy Family like to enter a float? The idea took off and before anyone realized it, the float was under construction, busses were hired to take people down to the parade and the kitchen crew was planning a corned beef and cabbage dinner for after the parade.

That first parade entry in 1983 tied for first place in its division and at dinner after the parade, plans got underway to “win it outright next year.” Weather had cooperated in ’83 and the day had been mild, but Mother Nature made up for it the following year. The float needed leprechauns but the blustery March weather demanded the youngsters wear winter jackets. Ingenuity prevailed and Holy Family had lots of young leprechauns all decked out in costumes of green garbage bags! The bags were cut to fit each child and they kept out the wind and cold so Holy Family had the happiest leprechauns in the parade.

For that year and several following, Holy Family was Number One in its division. In the late 80’s the floats ceased to be and the thrill of the holiday was now directed at the party itself. It became the event of the year.

Beginning with a disc jockey playing Irish music, entertainment sometimes included bagpipers and Irish dancers besides. Always there was wonderful Irish food and the dinner has grown over time to include: corn beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots, Irish stew, cole slaw and for dessert, mint ice-cream and cookies. All this is combined with green beer. The party has remained a family event complete with special entertainment for all. There is a extraordinary magician who created all kinds of balloon hats and mesmerizes the children as well as the adults with his illusive magic.

The disc jockey handles the Musical Chairs game for the children as well as the grand-finale enhanced version for the adults. In this game, as chairs are being removed, contestants are told about certain articles, such as two left socks, which they must acquire when the music stops. Those who obtain the required articles fastest get back to a chair; those who are slower are out of luck! The results are always in doubt, requiring the utmost audience participation and cooperation for an absolutely hilarious outcome.
  Parish Picnic
Since the first summer there was a “Holy Family” there has been a family picnic. The original one, at Hines Park in Northville, was held to celebrate the end of the school year and beginning of summer vacation. Families brought their own food and then the “Social Committee” provided games and activities. Various summer Sundays were tried throughout the years and it was discovered that most families were home from vacation the weekend before school began. Therefore the last few years the Sunday before the Novi schools started class for students has been designated “Picnic Sunday.”

Other things have changed as well: location for example had gone from Northville to Kensington and then to Lakeshore Park right here in Novi. Food has taken a real turn for the easier! Following the establishment of our own Holy Family Council, the Knights of Columbus offered to grill some items which would alleviated the need for family members to prepare all the food at home. Needless to say this idea has been very well received and the present-day menus has been expanded to include hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, chicken breast and corn-on-the-cob.

Games for children up to twelve years of age are provided by the Hospitality Commissions as well as some games for adults, such as the Water Balloon (formerly egg) Toss and Tug-of-War which return year after year by popular demand.

However, while some changes have evolved from the original picnic, one segment has not changed. The picnic always formally begins with Mass at the picnic location about noon in keeping with one of Father O’Brien’s favorite axioms, “First, pray together, then play together.” This the Hospitality Commission still strives to do.