Red, white and blue were prominent at Independence Day celebrations in Grand Forks Sunday as hundreds of children and adults wore or waved flags to demonstrate their patriotism.
A day – and night – of Fourth of July kicked off at 8 a.m. with the Altru Family YMCA 5K/10K Fun Run and Walk in downtown Grand Forks, across from the Town Square. Later in the morning, the festivities moved south as the Sertoma of Greater Grand Forks held its annual Fourth of July event.
About 180 runners, many of them wearing patriotic hats or caps, T-shirts and shorts with red, participated in the Altru Family 5K/10K Run and Walk. Patti McEnroe, YMCA membership and marketing director, was pleased with the turnout for the event, which was the organization’s 28th annual, and she was thankful for good weather. In 2020, an early morning deluge delayed the start of the race.
At race time this year, the temperature was about 75 degrees and skies were clear, except for a few fluffy clouds.
“We could have got a cooler morning, but other than that, we couldn’t have gotten a nicer morning,” McEnroe said.
While the temperature and humidity combined to make the race challenging for local runners who are accustomed to cooler conditions, Kiran Anderson, 17, of San Antonio, found the weather fine for running a 5K. Typically, the temperature for his cross country races in Texas is 80- to 90-degrees, and he practices at temperatures from 90 degrees to 100 degrees, said Anderson, who was in North Dakota visiting relatives.
“It was a lot of fun -- much different climate and cool compared to San Antonio," Anderson said. “It was a beautiful course."
Across Grand Forks, near South Middle School, a kiddie parade kicked off the Sertoma of Greater Grand Forks Festival and Fireworks. Last year there was only a fireworks display because the festival was canceled.
Beth and Scott Ayashi and their children Scarlet, 2; Abbott, 5; and Adie, 7, all wearing red, white and blue, were standing in a shady spot while they waited for the kiddie parade to begin at 11:45 a.m. The family initially had planned to watch the parade, and then decided because they were going to be there, anyway, that they would participate, so they decorated a children’s wagon and registered for the event.
“It’s fun that Grand Forks has events like this for everyone to come and celebrate,” Beth Ayashi said.
About 90 children were in the parade, walking, peddling or in small motorized vehicles.
Alex Lawson, 3, was behind the wheel of a miniature truck pulling a race car trailer, as his father, Corey Lawson walked beside him in the parade and helped him steer. The elder Lawson built his son the truck for Christmas and the trailer for his birthday.
“We’re big race fans. I thought it would be cool,” Corey Lawson said. Other children evidently did, too, because several of them took turns sitting in the miniature truck while they waited for the parade to begin.
After the parade, the Grand Forks Fire Department raised the flag on one of their boom trucks.
About a dozen food trucks were on hand, live bands played music and activities included a dunk tank, free caricature drawings and a Circle of Friends Animal Shelter kissing booth where people dropped money in a Circle of Friends free will offering as 9-month-old Maisy the Dalmatian eagerly awaited for them to give her treats and attention.
“She’s here to support them today and get adopted,” said Justine Melvin, a Circle of Friends employee at the booth.
Proceeds from the Sertoma event will be donated to Special Olympics and used to improve and expand Sertoma Park. Besides the event, the Sertoma of Greater Grand Forks was selling raffle tickets. Sales were planned to continue until 9 p.m., and shortly after, a drawing for prizes.
The organization planned to conclude its Fourth of July celebration with a fireworks display at 10:30 p.m. at the location near South Middle School where the other Independence Day activities were held.