May 14, 2007

The history of Howard Lake's Good neighbor Days parade

Three floats have been in commission since the parade began

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Although the annual Howard Lake Good Neighbor Days celebration began in 1977, an actual parade for that event didn’t begin until 1990.

The first parade float built and used by Howard Lake royalty was made to look like a fishing boat.

“Jean and (the late) Eugene Schmidt organized the first Good Neighbor Days parade,” said Howard Lake resident Marilyn Ringold.

Welton Zander was the mayor of Howard Lake that year, and he was the grand marshal for the parade, as well, according to a 1990 issue of the Howard Lake Herald.

Nearly 90 units were in the first parade including an 1890 funeral coach with matching black Percheron horses, Aquatennial royalty, mule teams, an array of fire trucks, and local officials, including then Howard Lake Police Chief Michael Simmons.

The fishing boat float was pulled through various parades through 1999 until a new, cottage-style float was built in 2000.

“The boat frame was torn down by Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted shop teacher Dan Kyllonen, who then built the frame for a cottage-style float,” said Deb Fall, whose daughter, Sallie, was a Howard Lake princess in 1999 - 2000.

The idea behind the cottage was to make the float look like your neighbor’s house in an effort to follow the “good neighbor” theme, according to Fall.

Fall painted, covered, and decorated the cottage float with the help of the royalty.

“It was definitely a ‘mommy float.’ You could tell it was made by a mom, and not a professional,” Fall laughed.

The third and current float was built in the spring of 2002 by Jeanne Brose, Mary Kritzeck, Marilyn Ringold, Sam Gruenhagen, Erv Luhman, Ralph Diers, Mike Main, and Lions Club members.

“We worked all winter on that float. The design was inspired by our beautiful lake,” Jeanne Brose said.

“The picture of the sailboat on the steering column is the same design that’s on the Memorial Park sign,” Brose explained.

“Prior to this float, we (the city) hadn’t had a float in the Aquatennial parade because one of the requirements is for the float to be lighted, which previous floats weren’t,” she added.

The float has its own generator to power the lights and music.

The current float has even been featured in float supply magazines, according to Ringold.

A goofy old mistake

In rummaging through old newspaper copy from past Good Neighbor Days coverage, Marilyn Ringold found the following amusing paragraph.

“Each year Good Neighbor Days seems to expand and get bigger and better. The six-day event is now stretching over five days,” according to the May 20, 1991 issue of the Howard Lake Herald.

Rule of thumb for date

Howard Lake’s Good Neighbor Days falls on the weekend of the fourth Sunday in June. This year the dates are Thursday through Sunday, June 21 - 24.

Parade unit fee waived

The Good Neighbor Day committee is waiving the $15 per commercial unit entry fee for those who register before June 1.

“This is an excellent opportunity to spotlight your business or service – and what is more fun than a parade?” Ringold said.

To register a parade unit, call Jeanne Brose at (320) 543-3725 or send a note to the Good Neighbor Days Committee at PO Box 35, Howard Lake, MN 55349.

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