Holiday parade honors Grand Forks frontline workers
“Grand Forks, North Dakota, is a community that supports one another through selfless acts of kindness and appreciation, especially when the going gets tough,” Mayor Brandon Bochenski wrote in proclaiming Dec. 14-20 as “Light the Town Green Week.”
Members of the Greater Grand Forks community turned out in force Sunday to honor frontline workers with a parade.
The Dec. 20 parade was one of the concluding events of the week that Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski designated as “Light the Town Green Week” as a way to honor frontline health care workers and pay tribute to their grit and determination as they continue to battle COVID-19, Bochenski said.
The lights on the Alerus Center and Sorlie Bridge were lit green during the past week, a symbol of the community’s predominant identifying color to show support for frontline workers, he said.
“Grand Forks, North Dakota, is a community that supports one another through selfless acts of kindness and appreciation, especially when the going gets tough,” Bochenski wrote in proclaiming Dec. 14-20 as “Light the Town Green Week.”
Cars, trucks, side-by-sides, vans, a semi-tractor trailer and even a convertible – some decorated with balloons, holiday lights and Christmas stockings – met in the Ralph Engelstad Arena parking lot at 4 p.m. on Sunday before parading down Columba Road to Altru Hospital, and then to the Alerus Center.
The Frontline Workers Festival, which concluded with a fireworks display, was organized to thank all essential workers.
“It’s been a challenging year in many ways, and the essential workers have always been essential to keeping us safe," said Chris Wolf, president of Alerus' northern valley market. "But this year has been even more challenging, and we continue to be impressed and grateful."
Alerus, the city of Grand Forks and Altru Care team – an essential workers support team made up of Altru employees, business representatives and community members – helped organize the Frontline Workers Festival. Nolan Higdem, who works for Altru Health Foundation, came up with the idea.
“With all of the service and sacrifice our essential workers are doing, there was a need to show our support,” Higdem said.
Ryan Scott, a member of the Kem Shriners Lodge, and three other lodge members braved the gusty winds and swirling snow to ride in their two-way open-air convertible in the parade to show their support for the frontline workers.
“For everything they've had to do the last nine months,” Scott said.
Five UPS trucks, with drivers dressed in their uniforms, also were part of the parade.
“We wanted to join in and share in the celebration and support the community,” said Larry Haas, one of the drivers.
Some parade participants, like Brittany Blake and her husband, Tony Meyer, decorated their vehicles and wore holiday outfits in the parade. The couple decorated the hood of their Jeep with wrapping paper, outlined it in Christmas lights and hung stockings on its side.
“I work at Altru and I see what the health care workers do everyday to protect the community,” Blake said.
A fireworks display was held in the Alerus Center parking lot after the parade.