Celebrating childhood: Amarah’s Princess Parade raises funds for local nonprofit, offers family fun

The Filizetti family poses for a photo with the Once Upon a Birthday princess characters at a past Amarah’s Princess Parade event. Laila, left, and Missy Filizetti are being held by the princess characters, along with Stacey Filizetti, center, and Wayne Filizetti, back. Stacey and Wayne in a previous interview with The Mining Journal said the event was inspired by Amarah’s love for the fairytale characters. “She wore (her princess costume) everywhere,” said Stacey Filizetti. (Journal file photo by Kelsie Thompson)

MARQUETTE — On Saturday, children and families are invited to dress up in their favorite costumes to enjoy games, a bounce house, ice cream and a walk on Presque Isle Island in Marquette during the third annual Amarah’s Princess Parade.

The event aims to celebrate the joys of childhood while raising funds for Amarah’s Light, a nonprofit organization created to help families who are dealing with the loss of a child, said Stacy Filizetti of Amarah’s Light, who cofounded the nonprofit with her husband Wayne, Mandy Wyatt and Lisa Johnson after the Filizettis lost their young daughter, Amarah, and wanted to help others who suffered the loss of a child.

Saturday’s event is not only a way to raise funds for the nonprofit, but a way to let those who have suffered a loss know that they are not alone, Filizetti said, noting that the event can remind them that they are still in the thoughts of many.

“I remember thinking ‘I can’t be this alone, there’s got to be a way to let people know that they’re not alone,'” she said. “There’s not much you can do to make someone feel better but you can let them know that they’re not alone and that there’s people there (for them), and I think that’s the most important thing we’re trying to do at the event,” she said.

Registration for the walk, which is by donation, will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Island Store Pavilion, with the walk around the island beginning at noon.

A photo of Amarah from the Amarah’s Light website. (Courtesy photo)

“This way, everyone’s donation has an immense value and it’s whatever they are comfortable with and whatever they can afford,” Filizetti said.

Filizetti said the “loop” around Presque Isle will be closed to vehicles during the walk, allowing families to enjoy a relaxing walk around the island without worry, noting “kids can run and frolic and skip.”

Children are encouraged to wear any costume they love and feel special wearing — the event was inspired by Amarah’s love for wearing her princess dresses, Filizetti said.

“We had a lot of superheroes last year,” she said. “Really, it’s just about whatever the kid wants that day,” she said.

The event will offer many activities, Filizetti said, including oversized yard games courtesy of Double Trouble DJs, a bounce house, tie-dyeing, nail painting, Disney character appearances, prize drawings and more.

Families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy during the event — for desert, ice cream from Jilbert’s Dairy will be handed out at the end of the walk, Filizetti said.

Drawings for prizes will be held at the close of the event at 1:30 p.m., she said, noting “there will be something for everybody” in the wide variety of prizes offered.

“When they register, then they can enter the drawing, they can pick what prizes they’d like to win, so everyone has an opportunity to win,” she said.

All funds raised for Amarah’s Light at Saturday’s event will go toward supporting families in that have suffered the loss of a child in a “thoughtful, appropriate way,” Filizetti said.

This support comes in many forms, she said, noting care packages, as well as materials to help children process and understand loss, are offered for families who recently experienced a loss.

“We have grief books for the children also, and I know they’re horrible to need but they’re an amazing resource when you have no idea how to tell a child what happened, so we try to get those out as soon as possible,” she said.

The nonprofit also works to financially assist families with mental health services, she said, noting counseling can be a major need for those who have lost a child, emphasizing that “the parents and family need almost immediate mental health care.”

Beyond attending Saturday’s event, there are many ways to support Amarah’s Light, she said, noting that the organization is seeking donors, as well as mental health professionals who may be willing to make house calls or offer services at a reduced rate for grieving families.

“(People) can help us with the event, absolutely, they can help us find sponsors and donors,” she said. “That’s one thing that I struggle with on my own. We are smaller, so we do all of it on our own, but that’s one area we could use more support in, is finding donors who want to do an annual sponsorship.”

There are also many ways that the community can help someone who is grieving the loss of a child, she said.

“It’s anything, the silliest little things are the things that help the most — you see their grass getting too long, cut the grass,” she said. “Bring a random meal. Ask if they need you to go to the grocery store, especially moms — when you lose a child, grocery shopping is a completely different experience.”

No matter how long ago a loss of a child was, Filizetti said, it’s important to offer support, love and patience, noting that if you have “a friend who experienced this type of loss one year ago, six years ago, eight years ago, if they’ve gotten quiet, reach out.”

For more information on Amarah’s Light or Amarah’s Princess Parade, or to register in advance of the event, visit amarahslight.com or the Memories of Amarah — Amarah’s Light Facebook page.