Patriotic festivities featured for Park Rapids ‘4th’
By KEVIN CEDERSTROM
Park Rapids will be booming with activity this weekend as numerous Fourth of July events come together to celebrate this country’s independence.
The weekend features a rodeo, footrace, parade, music, culminating with what organizers call the largest fireworks show in the state.
“This year promises to be a ‘biggie’ in terms of the 4th of July celebration,” said Nicole Lalum, Executive Director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. “Since Independence Day is on a Saturday this year, there are more people who will be able to take advantage of the holiday weekend and celebrate ‘America’s Superheroes’ in the Park Rapids Lakes Area.”
Beginning Thursday, the weekend is full of activity which culminates with what is expected to be a spectacular pyrotechnics show Saturday night.
4th of July Parade
The annual 4th of July Parade begins at 5 p.m. The theme is “America’s Superheroes” and celebrates America’s birthday, downtown Park Rapids, paying tribute to the men and women who fought for our freedom.
Starting from the Hubbard County Fairgrounds on Fair Avenue the parade moves east on Second Street, then south on Main Avenue to Eighth Street and west to Fair Avenue where the parade will finish.
Lineup is at 3 p.m. and the parade begins at 5 p.m.
“The Chamber is excited to be hosting the 4th of July parade along a route that is entirely south of Highway 34 and shaping up to be a great one,” Lalum said. “We encourage everyone to come in to town and take part in some of the spectacular events planned.”
The parade begins with a military line-up, the American Legion Post 212 Color Guard, VFW, Marine Corps League, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans with Boy Scouts assisting.
The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the police department, changed the parade route this year to run completely south of Highway 34 due to concerns with road construction on North Main Avenue and having to cross Highway 34, since the highway cannot be closed.
Rodeo and bull ride
The premier summer holiday weekend gets an early start Thursday, July 2 with a full rodeo. The seven-event PRCA rodeo on Thursday features bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc, calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding.
The 37th Annual Professional Bull Ride takes place Friday and Saturday, PBR bull riding only for world championship points.
The rodeo Thursday is a PRCA sanctioned event. Rodeo and bull ride action begins each night, July 2-4, at 6:30 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Rodeo and bull ride promoter Randy Jokela calls this the largest rodeo event they’ve ever done in Park Rapids, and the only one in the region to combine both PRCA and PBR in the same weekend.
Jokela promises the Park Rapids rodeo and bull ride to be a great family event.
“This is wholesome unrehearsed entertainment, America’s original sport,” Jokela said. “And it’s on the 4th of July. What more do you want?”
Carrying on the theme to honor veterans the Color Guard will be present each night. Miss Rodeo Minnesota will present the flag.
The always popular Muttin Bustin’ for children ages 5-7 will be held each night. MotoX and an ATV aerial show take place each night during intermission.
More information available at: www.parkrapidsbullride.com
The annual 4th of July fireworks display overlooking the Fish Hook River and Heartland Park caps off the patriotic and festive weekend. The Park Rapids Rotary Club sponsors the display, which is funded by donations.
The fireworks show begins shortly after dusk Saturday.
The 37th Annual Firecracker Footrace in Heartland Park starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 4. The 5K run/walk event is a fundraiser for the Park Rapids boys and girls cross-country and track teams. A free kids fun run (12-under) will be held after the 5K. All events start and finish in Heartland Park.
The Park Rapids Area Community Band will perform a pre-fireworks concert starting at 7:30 p.m. in Heartland Park.
Pie baking contest and auction
The John Michael Lerma Pie Baking Contest and Auction, hosted by Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, takes place Saturday. Backers can enter a pie in one of four categories for a $5 entry fee per pie.
Cash prizes given to top pies in each category including best in show. All pies minus one slice will be auctioned off at 3:30 p.m. on Main. All proceeds benefit the Park Rapids Public Library.
Elaine Nelson and Gerald Green have been selected to serve as Grand Marshals for this year’s 4th of July Parade in Park Rapids.
The parade starts at 5 p.m. at the fairgrounds.
SSGT Elaine Nelson entered the U.S. Marine Corps on Dec. 12, 1943 and served until Dec. 1, 1945. She served as a Machine Operator and property NCO at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She was one of the women that stepped up to serve her country at a time of war.
COL Gerald Green served in the U.S. Army for 26 years on active duty and 11 more years in the reserves.
Green was rated Pilot on both fixed wing and rotary winged aircraft. Awards and decorations include: the Legon of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with one silver and four Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Service Medal, Armed Services Reserve Medal, Army Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit Citation with Palm and the Army Senior Aviation Badge.