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Good times on the 4th of July

 The Fourth of July really is the best holiday. This weekend marks all that is good in the Midwest.  We’re at the peak of summer weather perfect for barbecues, boat parades and bonfires. Downtown festivals, street parades,outdoor music, rodeos and, of course, fireworks. This is America! Celebrate all that we are in the glory of the red, white and blue.  Summer doesn’t last too long in these parts so take advantage of what Park Rapids offers this weekend.

Parades have changed quite a bit since I was young growing up in western North Dakota. Long before the fun police mobilized and exerted its influence in so many corners of our lives Fourth of July weekend was a little more reckless and carefree.  I took my daughters to an area parade last weekend and my middle child made a comment which sums up pretty well a generational shift. “You know Daddy, grandpa says it’s not a real parade without horses.”  

Very wise, and unfortunately horses are disappearing from most parades these days. Liability scares and cleanup, I imagine the main reasons. Also all but gone are marching bands.  Sad. A parade with marching bands from numerous communities seem to be a thing of the past. The old rule of thumb was don’t lineup a marching band behind the horses. Bring back the pooper-scoopers dressed as clowns.  A few years ago there was even talk of outlawing candy from being thrown by parade entrants. Luckily, that ridiculous concept hasn’t taken hold yet.  Parades represent the backbone of any good town festival. Given the folks at the chamber of commerce who are organizing this fine Park Rapids tradition I have no doubt it will be entertaining and memorable.

I recall the good ol’ days of parades with big rigs and live bands jammin’ on flat-bed trailers. I’m not trying to cast a dark shadow here but we need to bring back music to parades. Very few schools even have marching bands anymore. And for the love of all that is sacred if the topic of eliminating candy comes up in conversation please stand up for America and its parades. We’ve lost too much already. Don’t take our candy away.  Back to reality. Take in this weekend’s events. A full professional rodeo Thursday night, followed by professional bull riding both Friday and Saturday nights. I’m no cowboy but I look forward to covering the rodeo and expect the event to be top-notch.  

I’ve got fond memories of growing up in the wild, wild west where there weren’t many restrictions on fireworks, or at least maybe as kids we didn’t pay too much attention to laws. Or safety for that matter.  Exploding and rocketing fireworks were abundant and readily accessible. No need to send a buyer across state lines to pick up the good stuff. We made it through years of bottle rocket wars in the woods with little more than burns and minor injuries.  It’s a wonder nobody lost an eye and I certainly don’t encourage this activity but the 80s were a different time. I’m not saying it was right but maybe a little more danger growing up means a little more fun.  

The annual fireworks show in Park Rapids Saturday night is billed as one of the largest (unofficially, the largest) public display in the state. The Rotary club raises the funds and sponsors the event in Heartland Park.  They’ve exceeded their financial goal already for next year and I’m told we don’t want to miss this show overlooking the Fish Hook River as the finale is expected to be bigger and better than ever.  Enjoy your Independence Day. Be safe and have fun.

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