Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 2, 2001

Horse racing, cigars were part of early Fourth of July celebrations in Howard Lake

By Lynda Jensen

Howard Lake attracted a crowd of enthusiastic people during Good Neighbor Days, but few may remember another celebration - before Neighbor Days - that also drew crowds for miles around: the Fourth of July celebration.

In fact, the Fourth of July celebration offered many of the fun properties of modern Good Neighbor Days, including a parade, concessions, band music, and dancing, among many other things.

In the early days, other events such as horse racing were included to amuse and amaze the crowds.

The events were sponsored by the American Legion and the Commercial Club.

Preparations are described in the following clips dated May 16, 1935, from the Howard Lake Herald:

A large and enthusiastic crowd, composed of Commercial Club members, American Legion members, and others, met at the city hall Tuesday evening and voted unanimously to stage a celebration in Howard Lake on the Fourth of July.

The general outline for the day's celebration will consist of a parade in the morning, a picnic dinner in the park and band music. All the concessions in the park will be taken care of by members of the two organization.

Horse races, no doubt, will be held as usual at the fair grounds, at that the present time, no definite arrangements have been made.

There will be a baseball game in the afternoon between the Howard Lake team and some other fast organization. There will be many attractions during the afternoon and early evening. There will be followed by fireworks and dancing in the later part of the evening.

Continuing with the Herald article in 1935, the event was planned with great fanfare, and heavy participation by the community.

A list of no less than 15 committees was printed, with advertising beginning in mid-May; although this probably occurred because of the slower communication during the horse and buggy days.

The advertising plan included several local gentlemen driving their automobiles to surrounding villages the week before to spread the word about the event and affix posters.

Among those with autos were: Howard Mitchell, O. P. Jungclaus, Art Strache, John Rasmussen, Fred Rausch, and Otto Hackbarth.

Arrangements for the event were completed by late June, as described in the June 27 issue of the Herald:

Amusements that will thrill. Parade, ball game, band concerts, sports, concessions, dancing. Grand display of fireworks.

Next Thursday, July 4th, Howard Lake is putting on another of her justly famous celebrations in the beautify tourist park on the west shore of Lake Howard.

The celebration will be started in the morning with a parade, led by the Little German band, members of the old band, and the school band. These organizations will furnish music thruout the day and evening. Besides this, a seven-piece orchestra will provide music for dancing in the afternoon and evening.

A ball game between the teams from Cokato and Howard Lake will entertain the crowds in the afternoon and promises to be a hard-fought contest.

Entertainment included horse shoe, darts, and two general stands for selling soft drinks, candy, cigars, firecrackers and chewing gum.

The event in 1935 went well, as reported in the July 11 issue of the Herald:

Celebration attended by very large crowds. Finest parade ever put on. Ball game, dancing and fireworks enjoyed. There was one injury reported in relation to the fireworks display that year, however.

During the celebration some boys threw a lighted fire cracker in the air, which landed inside of Herman Melinsky's open shirt at the neck and exploded. His neck was badly burned and the front of his shirt was torn to ribbons, the Herald reported.

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