This is 44th in a series of 50 posts we are putting out throughout the years in anticipation of the celebration of our 50th Anniversary in 2015. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for the top things YOU love about Minnesota as well!
A Small Town Summer Parade
By Molly Ruby
Simply All-American and representative of small town pride are the seasonal celebrations and parades that can be found across Minnesota for reasons as varied as: Heritage Days, Potato Days, Freedom Day, Twine Ball Day and Waterski Days. Perhaps just the mention of these celebrations brings back fond memories from your own childhood and good times spent with family and friends.
My family’s favorite place to celebrate summer and specifically the 4th of July holiday is in Spicer on Green Lake. Since before I was even married, I’ve been coming to Spicer for the 4th and now if you ask my three children, they’d say there’s really no other place in the world they’d choose to celebrate Independence Day.
What’s to love about a little town of merely 1000 residents and this particular holiday celebration? It’s the parade floats are constructed and flatbeds decorated by every local business in town and politicians from near and far. On the 4th itself, (sometimes the eve of) before dawn, blankets are spread out lengthwise on the curb and folding chairs strategically placed to reserve the very best parade watching places.
Boys and girls alike dressed in red, white and blue from head to toe kick off the festivities at 9 am with the Kiddie parade. Bikes, tricycles, wagons, strollers, toddlers, walkers and sometimes piggy-back riders, smile and wave to admirers along a two block stretch before taking their spectator spot in the sun.
Finally the color guard appears, a trio of American flags flanked by the Minnesota state flag members of the American Legion present the colors and everyone stands to salute. A snap of a snare from the drumline and a thundering boom from a marching bass follow close behind as the high school marching band has hands clapping along to traditional Patriotic parade tunes.
If your heart isn’t swelling yet every fire truck, ladder and pumper truck from miles around has been polished to perfection and multi-generation families of firemen, their spouses and children are waving and tossing out fists full of tootsie treats. When you least expect it, Junior will blast the siren just to be sure you are paying attention.
Convertibles with the top down, carry young ladies who’ve just been crowned the “Summer Parade Queen”, “Parade Princess” and “Little Miss Parade Princess” waving in a perfect figure 8 pattern. Looking on with awes of admiration, little ones wave back with hopes of one day wearing sparkly tiaras and satin dresses in the hot July sunshine parade circuit as well.
Each member of the family has a favorite parade entrant. My husband’s mom loves the signing auctioneer, my son the “off-track” go carts, and my personal favorite is the fruit stand family that pitches to the crowd, fresh peaches which you simply must catch so as not to risk bruising the fleshy sweet goodness.
As the parade draws to a close, the kids hold bags stuffed full of bubble yum and mini tootsie rolls, every man, woman and child along the parade route is sun-kissed and smiling at a neighbor. This is a place and a day year after year, where I simply feel proud to be not only an American, but better yet, Minnesotan.