The old song goes “I Love a Parade,” and Brainerd and Baxter area residents as well as our summertime visitors have certainly chimed in with their assent each Fourth of July.
Nancy Cross, Brainerd Community Action director, estimates 35,000 people line up with blankets and lawn chairs each Independence Day on a route which has circled Brainerd High School, the Historic Crow Wing County Courthouse and the Brainerd Post Office in south Brainerd. Crowd estimates are always subject to a little skepticism but the turnout has traditionally made the Brainerd-Baxter Fourth of July celebration a must-march function for area and state politicians, as well as many businesses and civic groups.
News last week that the parade might be canceled sent a ripple of disbelief and disappointment to the many families that have made parade-viewing a Fourth of July tradition.
What’s a Fourth of July celebration without an honor guard, noisy police and fire sirens, clowns, bands, tractors and yes, even politicians?
While considerable money still needs to be collected before Community Action hits its $15,000 goal for fireworks, entertainment and other costs, the parade itself is a low-cost item, Cross said. What’s needed is a new route that has proximity to the Brainerd High School football field (were many of the activities will be) but doesn’t rely on College Drive, which is currently under construction. Brainerd Community Action officials plan to meet with law enforcement, Brainerd Jaycees and other interested parties to see if an alternative route with perhaps, a scaled-down parade, is a possibility.
Public safety is the primary goal of these considerations, Cross said. Finding a way to move an estimated 35,000 people from the parade route to the football field without causing traffic gridlock will be another consideration.
We’re confident the celebration’s organizers can come up with a parade plan and route that will work. This shouldn’t be too hard for a resourceful group of patriots. Just let us know the route and we’ll be there with lawn chairs and the American flags that the Mills family generously supplies each year.
Contributions to this year’s celebration (with a suggested Fourth of July notation in the check’s subject line) may be sent to Brainerd Community Action, 213 S. Fifth St., Brainerd, MN, 56401.
— Editorial Board