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Fourth of July events bring masses to Park Rapids

Brenda Keller, at left, and Vera Staus wave from their patriotic "Snoopy" pontoon at the Fish Hook Lake boat parade Sunday. Twenty-one boats paraded around the lake, down the Fish Hook River and around the Red Bridge. Residents stood on docks and waved their flags and sounded horns as the boats glided by. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 2
Fireworks culminated this year's Fourth of July celebration. The fireworks show, overlooking Fish Hook River and Red Bridge Park, was bigger, with more colorful explosions and loud crackling for viewers to enjoy. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

BY Sarah smith

The old adage "When it rains it pours" seems particularly appropriate for Hubbard County's Fourth of July weekend.

As thousands of visitors poured into the county and onto area highways, torrential rains poured down on campers and homeowners, flooding basements and raising lake levels dramatically.

And complaints to law enforcement poured in as weary deputies, police officers and troopers kept a steady and sometime frantic pace keeping up.

The weekend started with a fatal accident near Becida. By Saturday afternoon firefighters had struggled unsuccessfully to quell a house fire near Hubbard.

Saturday night rescue crews searched in vain for a missing man found Sunday morning deceased in the woods.

And that same night police responded to Park Rapids' first homicide.

Sunday a fuel spill near the Thomason Law Office brought environmental and pollution control experts from out of town to clean up the smelly mess.

There were the more mundane, but no less frequent watercraft calls: dogs on a beach, boats pulling tubers too close to lakeshore residents and loons and jet skis annoying just about everybody.

Both Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer and Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers admitted to some exhaustion by Sunday afternoon as they readied themselves for the Park Rapids parade.

Homer had been roused out of bed at 1:30 Saturday morning about the car accident. County Attorney Don Dearstyne got a 3 a.m. wakeup call Sunday about the homicide.

But for the most part, the weekend, for the number of people the region accommodated, went well.

Boat parades Sunday, despite threatening dark clouds, had a huge response on each lake. Gary and Sharon Rezac Andersen had a difficult time trying to head up the Fish Hook Lake parade. The lake rose 5 inches overnight, complicating the task of freeing their pontoon from its cover. The boat rose to meet the canopy.

The bull ride event, other than major traffic congestion, caused few headaches for law enforcement, Homer said.

The Fourth of July parade Sunday evening had more than 100 entries and enough candy for children to fill their bags.

The fireworks were bigger and better this year, as promised by organizers. The show lasted longer than previous fireworks shows and had larger fireworks, with bigger bangs.

Someone posted on the Chamber of Commerce's website that the Park Rapids fireworks show over Fish Hook River rivaled Moorhead's show.

Organizers will already begin planning next year's festivities and hope to best this year's show.