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Park Rapids fireworks show sends 4th of July weekend out in style

The skies over Park Rapids Saturday night during the annual fireworks show in Heartland Park as seen from the old train bridge and toward the new bridge over the Fish Hook River. This 4th of July tradition organized by the Park Rapids Rotary and paid for by donations drew plenty of cheers and applause from specatators as the spectacular finale lit up the Independence Day night. (Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)1 / 6
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Boats with festively dressed occupants paraded up and down Upper and Lower Bottle Lakes Friday morning. They lined up at the dock of Dan and Mary Jeanne Schneeman, where family members served them muffins, donuts, coffee and lemonade. Almost three dozen boats paraded, everyone in high holiday spirits. Nearly every boat sported a dog dressed in red, white and blue bandannas.3 / 6
A lineup of Park Rapids Fire Department rigs move along behind a group of tractors as the parade makes its way along the downtown route. 4 / 6
Chad Grande was in the patriotic spirit with his stars and stripes headband after he completed the Firecracker Footrace.5 / 6
The Red Bridge Rascals got all duded up and hosted the first holiday parade in Heartland Park, riding decked out trikes down the bike path. The kids attend daycare at Dan and Patty Harsha’s home near the park.6 / 6

The biggest events of the Fourth of July holiday weekend lived up to expectations as organizers walked away pleased with attendance around Park Rapids.  The Saturday morning footrace, evening parade and rodeo events all came to a close that night and the Independence Day celebration went out in patriotic style with a spectacular fireworks show over Heartland Park.  

“The Fourth of July is always a big deal in Park Rapids, and being on a weekend this year it seemed even bigger than usual,” said Nicole Lalum, executive director of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. “I hope everyone enjoyed their time as much as I did, and they come back soon!”  

Lalum reported there were over 70 entries in the parade and estimated attendance was 3,300 along the route. She said there was favorable reaction to the revised route which moved everything south of Highway 34, noting a cooler spot this year to line up in the grassy field of the fairgrounds.   Parade fans filled the sidewalks along the streets throughout the downtown route.  “It’s always a pleasure to promote businesses to visitors and residents alike, that’s what we do and the parade garnered great exposure for everyone that participated,” Lalum added.  

The annual fireworks show in Heartland Park left a dramatic impression over the city with this year’s display featuring a finale bigger, brighter and louder than previous years.  Spectators filled areas in Heartland Park, Red Bridge Park, backyards and along Highway 34, while others took to the water to watch the show shot over the Fish Hook River.  David Collins, fireworks fundraising coordinator for the Park Rapids Rotary Club, said he is hearing great feedback from the community following Saturday night’s show.  

“We’re very pleased with the turnout and the support of local residents, as well as summer residents,” Collins said. “This was our biggest display yet.”  Collins reported this year financial contributions for the fireworks were up 12 percent, and it showed in the thunderous finale that shook the ground.  “People really like the bigger and better displays every year. I’ve heard very good comments,” Collins said.  

The Rotary Club took over sponsoring the annual fireworks show in 2007 and raises the money through private donations and other contributions. This year’s show was $26,000.

With all the people in town attending the various events the business district benefited.  Cynthia Jones of the Downtown Business Association said there were people downtown all weekend, shopping, eating at restaurants and having fun, particularly before the parade.  “The soda fountain was packed and everybody had an ice cream cone,” Jones commented. “It was a terrific Fourth of July weekend.”

The 37th Annual PBR Bull Ride added a PRCA Rodeo on the first night of the three-day event this year and promoter Randy Jokela calls the weekend a success. Exact attendance figures were not available but Jokela was clearly pleased.  “I thought our Friday night crowd was huge, one of the largest we’ve ever had,” Jokela said. “The weekend was excellent and very well attended.”  Jokela reported attendance at the concerts surpassed their goal of 1,000 people each night.  “We’re very happy and appreciative of all the businesses in town that help make this thing work,” Jokela said.  Added entertainment, added events and added excitement looked to pay off, and with the weather fully cooperating for the first time in five years, Jokela said he was very happy with the results.

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