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Capuchin dons Blessed Solanus ‘Big Head’ in Thanksgiving parade

DETROIT — Fr. Solanus Casey joined the ranks of the blessed on Nov. 18.

But five days later, Blessed Solanus Casey was among the ranks of former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, TV star Tom Selleck, basketball great Erwin “Magic” Johnson and civil rights icon Rosa Parks, parading down Woodward Avenue as part of The Parade Company’s Big Head Corps.

The Fr. Solanus “big head” has been a fixture in Detroit’s “America’s Thanksgiving Parade” for a few years, but this year was extra special, and not just because of the beatification. Wearing the costume was a genuine Capuchin priest, Fr. Tom Nguyen.

“Solanus has been a great figure in the city, and for this parade Solanus got more attention with the recent beatification,” Fr. Nguyen said.

Fr. Nguyen has been intrigued by the “big head” idea since Fr. Tim Pelc, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Grosse Pointe Park, brought the Texas native to his first Detroit Thanksgiving parade in 2014.

“I thought it was so cool one of our friars was part of Detroit’s parade,” Fr. Nguyen said.

While surprised to see Fr. Solanus represented, Fr. Nguyen commented to Fr. Pelc that the person in the parade wasn’t wearing the Capuchin habit exactly right. That got Fr. Pelc thinking.

“One of my parishioners, Joe Maffesoli, he’s ‘Bo Schembechler’ in the parade, so I talked to him about getting Fr. Tom in the Fr. Solanus head,” Fr. Pelc said.

Being a “big head” in the parade is a big deal. The process involves making a donation to The Parade Company, then picking which big head you want. But once you claim your big head, it’s yours until you give it up.

Read more at the Michigan Catholic. 

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