Service clubs disbands, but leaves a legacy
You know times are changing when service clubs disband. A few years ago, the Women of Today - the group that evolved from the Mrs. Jaycees - disbanded and now the Park Rapids Jaycees. Tracing the history to 1962 when the local chapter was founded...
You know times are changing when service clubs disband.
A few years ago, the Women of Today - the group that evolved from the Mrs. Jaycees - disbanded and now the Park Rapids Jaycees.
Tracing the history to 1962 when the local chapter was founded as the Park Rapids Junior Chamber of Commerce, we saw names of those who helped make our community great. The purposes of the Jaycees were given as community improvement and personal development of members (men only, ages 21-35).
The Park Rapids chapter wasted no time starting traditions that continued for decades. In 1963, the Jaycees honored the first Distinguished Service Award (DSA) winner - the late Bill Dorsey, who also was a charter member of the organization. The Community Awards Banquet, when the DSA winner was announced, is still a fall event with diverse organizations honoring residents whose efforts deserve recognition.
The Jaycees started many community service projects: they filled sandboxes, took telephone calls to Santa, picked up Christmas trees and sponsored the 4th of July fireworks.
Back in the day when the city owned the municipal liquor store and bar on 3rd Street (where A Better Place is now), the area upstairs was the meeting spot for many community events. The Jaycees had a smelt fry there in the spring. The smelt fry was so popular that if you weren't in line early, you might end up eating a hamburger somewhere else.
The grandest legacy the Jaycees left to the community was the Logging Days celebration. It started in 1963 as a one-day event and expanded into four days of entertainment.
At least as far back as the 1970s and 1980s, Logging Days seemed as big an event as the 4th of July is in Park Rapids now. Tourists booked the same week in July every year so they could take in the activities. They lined Main Avenue for a parade and packed the city beach (now Red Bridge Park) on the river for the lumberjack show.
The Jaycees hosted a band feed with marching bands coming from as far as Fertile and Virginia, MN to participate in the parade.
In the early days, there also was a queen pageant, kiddie parade and unforgettable fire department water fights on Main.
The event was not only good for the local economy but set an example of cooperation and collaboration. The Mrs. Jaycees, Eagles, Legion, Rotary and Lions clubs and others all shared in the celebration.
We salute the legacy of this great organization and cherish the memories of an earlier chapter in the history of our community.
We also take heart, knowing the spirit of community service is not gone, but reincarnated in a new organization. The Park Rapids Rotaract Club with 30-some members, age 30 and younger, has already stepped up, playing a big part in this year's 4th of July parade and participating in other community service projects.