Controversy after anti-vaccine group marches in Memorial Day parade

Ottawa County

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some Jenison residents were upset when they saw an anti-vaccine group marching in the area’s Memorial Day parade.

The group of people with “Michigan for Vaccine Choice”carried anti-vaccination signs that read things like, “Vaccines contain aborted fetal DNA, “Vaccine science is not settled” and “Better be sure; you can’t take it back; COVID vax.”

The signs sparked some outrage in Jenison. Some people posted on Facebook that the parade is not the right platform to push an anti-vaccine agenda.

One of the sponsors of the parade, a veteran, disagreed.

“I was torn about the issue because that may not have been the right place for it because it is a heated issue right now,” Nathan VanderPloeg, owner of VP Firearms Training, said. “At the same time, we fought overseas, we fight every day to protect those rights to go out and express our views.”

News 8 went to the Georgetown Township office twice Tuesday trying to get a response. The township didn’t organize the parade, according to Township Superintendent Daniel Carlton, but it has received about 10 complaints so far about the anti-vaccine float.

Carlton wouldn’t participate in an interview, saying Ryan Kidd, the township clerk, was the best person to answer questions because he helped put the parade together. Kidd didn’t respond to any of News 8’s messages Tuesday.

Carlton said the group that organized the parade is called Ottawa Impact. Its website said the group is trying to “preserve the heritage of Ottawa County” and defend “the constitutional rights of parents to make health and education decisions for their own children.”

The president of the group is Joe Moss. His picture sits atop joemoss.com, where he said he’s “for liberty.”

After calling him and stopping by his home, News 8 received this statement:

“We are so pleased that the community has reached out with words of encouragement about the parade yesterday! Ottawa Impact welcomed all individuals, companies, and nonprofit organizations from the community that wanted to participate in the parade. We are thankful to the generous sponsors who donated directly to Kenowa AMBUCS. We are looking forward to the parade next year, when we anticipate Kenowa AMBUCS will again pick up the reigns. We are thankful to have been a part of the ultimate purpose of Memorial Day: to honor and commemorate the individuals who sacrificed their lives in service to our great nation and the families they left behind.”

Joe Moss, Ottawa Impact president

In years past, the Kenowa AMBUCS business club has organized the parade. It posted on Facebook informing people that it did not organize the parade this year but plans to return next year.

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