Communities across Washington County are primed for midsummer revelry on the Fourth of July, with picnics, carnivals, running races, parades and, oh yes, fireworks displays. Here is a roundup of local events:
All roads will be closed in and out of the city from 11 a.m. to about 1 p.m. to clear the way for the parade, which starts at noon. The route runs down Afton’s main street and then doubles back to the starting point (this is the rare parade you can see twice in the same day).
An off-site bus shuttle from the Lakeland Plaza parking lot will run from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Cost is $3. Music, beer and food will be available in Town Square Park until 3 p.m. Volunteers are wanted for traffic control and post-parade cleanup. Contact Stan Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joan and Rick Meierotto of Afton are the grand marshals of the parade. He volunteered at Belwin Conservancy and also was a member of Belwin’s advisory board. She volunteers for the Minnesota Land Trust and as an election judge for Afton. They both served on Afton’s Planning Commission and were part of the Afton Forum.
The Cottage Grove Lions will host the celebration at Kingston Park, Indian Boulevard and 75th Street. Activities begin at 6 p.m. with a fun jump for the kids and games for the entire family. Brats and hot dogs will be available for sale as well as chips, candy, soda and Yo-Joe’s yogurt. Fireworks begin at dusk.
Billing itself the “Fourth of July Capital of the Upper Midwest,” Forest Lake has a celebration put on by American Legion Post 225 that starts a day ahead, with a carnival opening at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and events continuing through the weekend at Lakeside Park at E. Broadway Avenue off Lake Street. A reading of the Declaration of Independence takes place at 9:30 a.m. at the park gazebo, followed by the parade at 10 a.m. on July 4th. Fireworks are at 10 p.m. Free live music, a bingo tent, food service by the American Legion and the carnival will be running through the weekend.
Marine on St. Croix
Marine also gets a jump on things Wednesday night, when fireworks start going off at dusk. A kiddie parade down Main Street will get the festivities rolling the next day when the noon whistle blows, followed by the annual All Town 4th of July parade.
A road race begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. at Hay Lake School, 14020 195th St. N. Proceeds benefit the Marine on St. Croix Restoration Society. The 2-mile and 4-mile races begin at 9:15 a.m. For details, go to http://marineonstcroix.zapevent.com.
Festivities start at 4 p.m. at Walton Park at 15th Street and Hadley Avenue. A variety of food vendors will be on hand, and the Rockin’ Hollywoods will take the stage at 7 p.m. and play until 10 p.m. The fireworks show will begin immediately following the concert. Admission is free.
Fireworks over the river begin at 10 p.m. at Lowell Park, 101 Water St. N., with music simulcast on KBBL (1220AM).
Rock band 8 Foot 4 will kick off a dance and celebration at 7 p.m. at Ojibway Park, 2695 Ojibway Drive, and concessions and glow necklaces will be available for sale. A fireworks display starts at 10 p.m.
And be careful out there …
Fireworks are fun and hard to resist, said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, but every year hundreds of kids in Minnesota get burned, injured or accidentally start fires due to fireworks. Most fireworks that burn and explode are illegal in Minnesota, however.
Sparklers, ground spinners, wheels, cone fountains, small illuminating torches, snakes, glow worms, smoke devices and party poppers are among those that are allowed. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles are not. The penalty for using illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor in Minnesota calling for a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.
The best option for enjoying fireworks and celebrating the holiday is to enjoy professionally run fireworks displays, he said. These are free, spectacular and safe.