A festive Fourth
The crowd in the Guesthouse International Inn parking lot was remarkably calm Sunday morning, even though more than 100 children and their bikes, wagons and dogs were decked out in their red, white and blue best, waiting for the start of the annu...
The crowd in the Guesthouse International Inn parking lot was remarkably calm Sunday morning, even though more than 100 children and their bikes, wagons and dogs were decked out in their red, white and blue best, waiting for the start of the annual Patriotic Kids Parade.
From a pretty young Betsy Ross to a curly-haired little Uncle Sam, the flag and its colors were well-represented among the kids waiting for the Fourth of July parade to head up First Avenue North and North Third Street to Town Square.
The Greater Grand Forks Sertoma Club based most of its Fourth of July celebration in Town Square on Sunday, a day blessed by blue skies, warm weather and a nice breeze. Each year, one of its first official events of Grand Forks' Fourth of July celebration is the Patriotic Kids parade.
Hailey Ernst, 7, and her sister, Hilary, 6, of East Grand Forks waited in their wagon wearing matching red outfits with red, white and silver beads, head scarves and sunglasses. Even their dog, Chi-Chi, was wearing a bandana covered in stars as she yapped at one of the other pets on the pavement.
Paige Hauser, 6, and her brother, Drew, 4, of Blaine, Minn., were ready to roll on their tricked-out bikes. In honor of the day, their hair had a light dusting of red and blue color. Other children drove motorized vehicles that ran on batteries; Brayden Puppe, 6, of Grand Forks had a complete rig, a four-wheeler pulling a covered wagon with enough ribbons, streamers, flags and red, white and blue for three parades.
As the children crossed into the square, a large crowd watched as a red fire truck raised its bucket high in the sky with two firefighters and the American flag, and the City Band played "Stars and Stripes Forever."
During the day, there were family activities, food and contests. The crowd was perhaps the largest the event has gotten during daytime hours, said Sertoma's Paul Waind, one of the organizers.
A near-perfect summer evening unfolded into the 9 p.m. hour, when the band The Roosters took a break from performing and a drawing was held on the Town Square stage for the raffle winners.
By mid-evening, people were already lining the dike up and down the Red River to get good seats for the fireworks show. Families waited with their kids and dogs, listening to the music, eating corndogs and drinking lemonade. The beer garden drew a good crowd, too.
The people in Town Square for the Fourth were all ages and from many ethnic backgrounds and even included Uncle Sam, who in his working life is Richard Schaffer, a Navy veteran and an anesthesia nurse at Altru hospital.
Schaffer said he likes costumes (at Ralph Engelstad Arena, he often goes green to support UND; you've probably seen him on the Jumbotron), so being Uncle Sam for the day is fun. At least 30 people asked to have their photo taken with him, including a group of Asian students attending UND and a man from Liberia.
He likes making the day more festive for others and reminding them what July 4 is all about. When people approach him, he doesn't greet them with, "Happy Fourth of July." Rather, he likes to ask how they will be celebrating the nation's birth.
Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .