The Purple People Eater was spotted cruising through the Fourth of July parade in Brainerd, smoking and spitting at the crowd.
"It drooled on me," 9-year-old DaVaughn Schroeder of Aitkin said about the purple monster.
Sponsored by Range Manufacturing, the Crosby Bar and T signs, the Purple People Eater captured the best in parade award. Range Manufacturing has won this award four years in a row, with their Ghostbusters, Star Wars and Flintstones floats winning in the past.
"They never cease to amaze me. They're always spectacular," said Nancy Cross, executive director of Brainerd Community Action and events organizer.
A 'Purple People Eater' dragon roamed the streets of Brainerd during the July 4th parade, belching smoke and water. With drivers painted purple, the Crosby float created a stir with parade-goers.
The Purple People Eater's head and wings move while water and smoke come out the mouth of the one-eyed one-horned purple monster. It's powered by a Toyota mini van, and is primarily made of duct tape, tarp and a lot of purple paint.
"We've worked on it since Friday, and we haven't slept since then," said Tim Kostal, a Purple People Eater creator who, along with the rest of his crew, was covered in purple paint.
Kostal had a lot of help building the float, which also wandered through the Crosby 4th of July parade.
"We do this every year for the kids. They love it and the adults really get into it too," Kostal said.
Madison Gohman of Brainerd waved her flag at the beginning of the Brainerd July 4th parade Wednesday. Crowds were lined three and four deep to watch the annual spectacle.
The Purple People Eater was complete with a root beer keg on the back to quench the thirst of the purple people tossing candy to the crowd.
The parade featured 130 units with everything from miniature horses and antique cars to marching bands and princesses.
Kathy Thompson, Mrs. Minnesota, rode through the parade in a convertible and the Mighty Gulls baseball team walked the streets with a 100-pound baseball bat trailing them.
The streets were lined with American flags and about 125,000 people, who watched Brainerd's American Celebration events which also included a concert by the Turtles at 8 p.m. and the legendary fireworks show at 10:15 p.m.
"This event seems to get bigger and better every year," Cross said.
Nearly all of the food vendors sold out of food by the end of the night.
About 30 adults and children from the St. Andrew's youth group hit the streets at 6 a.m. today, in hopes of getting everything cleaned up by 8 a.m.
Cross complimented everyone who volunteered in this year's Fourth of July celebration.
"Every little thing helps," she said. "I couldn't do this by myself."
The Freedom Festival wraps up the American Celebration events on Friday with a street dance downtown starting at 9 p.m. with music by The Original Knights of Rock 'n' Roll.
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