Potato Bowl parade kicks off gameday celebrations
This year’s parade had around 130 floats, said Ryan Scott, chairman of the Potato Bowl Parade, a number on par with pre-COVID parades.
GRAND FORKS – Downtown Grand Forks was full of UND green on Saturday, Sept. 10, as crowds lined DeMers Avenue to watch the 2022 KEM Shrine Potato Bowl Parade on the crisp, almost fall morning.
This year, the Potato Bowl USA game against Northern Iowa is the home opener for the Fighting Hawks, and for Hawks fans, including Carrie Herrig, the parade helps them show their team spirit. Herrig attended the parade with her three children Ella, 12, Greta, 10, and Dalton, 6.
“It’s the way to kick off the fall sports season and to show our commitment to the university and the community,” said Herrig. “It kind of brings those two things together, which is just a really nice way to set the tone for the year.”
This year’s parade had around 130 floats, said Ryan Scott, chairman of the Potato Bowl Parade, a number on par with pre-COVID parades. In 2021, there were 108 entrants.
“After COVID, you know, people are starting to come out a little bit stronger,” said Scott. “Last year was the first year after we canceled it after COVID, so people were a little apprehensive, but this year is a really good turnout.”
Claire Bjorneby, who graduated from Grafton High School in 2022, was one of this year’s Potato Bowl ambassadors. Tanner Piepkorn, a Central High School graduate, was the other. Just before the start of the parade, she waited near the front of the line of floats, and said it was fun to be one of the Potato Bowl ambassadors.
“It’s pretty cool because my dad was one of them too as a kid,” she said.
Mike Delisle, an owner of Mayo Manufacturing Company in East Grand Forks, was the grand marshal of the parade. Mayo Manufacturing Company produces and ships potato equipment. Delisle was also one of the founders of the Potato Bowl French Fry Feed.
The parade started at 10 a.m. with the wailing of sirens and drumming of the Pride of the North Marching Band from UND. The long line of floats traveled down DeMers from North Eighth Street, crossing the Sorlie Bridge into downtown East Grand Forks.
Led by the potato representatives, UND floats closely followed in the lineup, along with the KEM Shriners, who zipped around on three-wheel motorcycles. Other local businesses and organizations followed with floats following the themes of potatoes and UND football.
Paul and Judy Breidenbach, Anna Denault and her daughters Jacinta, 3, and Zelie, 6 months, were waiting further down the parade route in anticipation of Denault’s third daughter, who rode on the St. Michael's Catholic School float.
Jacinta shyly admitted she was excited to get candy in the parade, a popular sentiment among children in attendance as they gathered around parade-walkers handing out sweet treats along the route.
Among the adults, answers varied when asked what their favorite part of the parade is.
“I like the high school bands and I like the KEM Shrine,” said Judy.
“The Mobil Nobles,” said Paul. “And the floats are always pretty creative. They’re a lot of fun.”