BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN July 4 is less than two months away, and plans for the 2016 Delano 4th of July Celebration are in full swing.
Those plans include more fireworks and new parade features.
Fireworks and lasers
“The 4th of July Committee has heard many of the comments the general public has made regarding the fireworks of 2015,” committee chairman Alex Roeser said. “We take them very seriously.”
While the fireworks show featured new effects in 2015, it was shorter than many people had expected. This year’s show will be about 50 percent longer.
“We’re not only going to run a 27-minute show, it’s going to be set and choreographed to music,” Roeser said. “We’re looking forward to it. From what I’ve preliminarily seen from our contractor, it will be a fantastic show. I think everyone will enjoy it.”
Prior to the main event Monday, July 4, a five-minute teaser show will take place at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 3.
“If you want to take the little guys to a fireworks show, you can come Sunday,” Roeser said. “It’s earlier in the evening, so you’re not up with the kids past 11 p.m.”
Fireworks won’t be the only thing lighting up the sky over the 4th of July weekend.
A laser light show will take place at 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 1, at Municipal Stadium at Central Park.
“This is brand, spanking new to us,” Roeser said. “They’re going to set up a four-story big screen in left center field. You’ll be able to view it by coming in and grabbing a seat in the grandstand or on the first or third dugout lines.”
The 30-minute show will feature animated characters and other effects.
New parade features
Gov. Mark Dayton will serve as the 4th of July parade grand marshal.
“We will have had every governor since Jesse Ventura serve as grand marshal,” Roeser said. “It’s quite an honor to have the governor of the state here.”
Music lovers won’t want to miss the parade, which will feature new entertainment, including a marching band competition.
“This year, all the marching bands will be judged by Tri-State Judging for competition,” said parade committee chairman Rick Schaffer, of the Delano Lions.
There will be more musical acts overall.
Some of the entertainment includes Chopsticks; Minnesota Brass, Drum & Bugle Corps; Pan-handlers Steel Drum Band; Minnesota Roller Girls; Ghostbusters; Chopper; and the Shrine Antique Car Club.
The parade route will also be different. It will begin on Elm Avenue at the Tiger Drive intersection and go west to Second Street, south to Railroad Avenue, west to River Street, and north on River Street to the intersection with Wright County Road 30.
Organizers first decided to change the route when downtown construction plans were announced in 2015. They later learned the city had delayed work on downtown streets until after July 4.
“The city’s efforts to reschedule construction allow us to put the parade on Railroad Avenue,” Schaffer said.
Roeser noted that the new route maintains the same parade length, allows for better emergency management, enables organizers to add more programming and vendors, and adds more seating and public viewing areas.
Not only will the American Legion baseball tournament kick off Friday, July 1, but so will the inaugural cribbage tournament at 1 p.m. at the Delano Senior Center.
“This was a fantastic idea that was brought to the committee from the seniors,” Roeser said. “They wanted to do this. We highly encourage groups who want to do something to reach out to us, and if we can make it work, we will. This was an example of them reaching out, they wanted to do something, and we built it in.”
Other highlights of the first day include the coronation of the Delano Ambassadors and Little Misses, juggling by Alan Johnson on the family stage, and live country music by Maiden Dixie in the entertainment tent.
New to Saturday’s schedule is the Enticing Entertainment Fire Performers at 9 p.m. at the south side of Central Park.
A number of tournaments softball, baseball, beanbag, and waterball will take place throughout the day.
Beginning at 4 p.m. will be the Little City on the Crow Craft Beer Social. As has become tradition, Shane Martin will provide live music during this event, which will feature a wide variety of beverages.
Rock Godz will close out the night with hits from the ‘80s.
Sunday’s festivities will feature several family-friendly events, including the new sidewalk chalk art contest. Participants will be split into three age categories, including one for adults.
Within those categories, individuals will form teams and be responsible for decorating a section of Third Street, following the theme for the year.
“What will be cool is there’s a walkway down Third Street,” Roeser said. “Everyone coming in the park from the south side will get to see all the art . . . We’ll mark who won. It’ll be kind of a neat deal.”
Other family-friendly festivities include the kiddie parade, the kiddie tractor pull, Dave the Yo-Yo Champ on the family stage, and music by the Delano Guitar Club in the entertainment tent.
The Johnny Holm Band will close out the night in the entertainment tent with their mix of old classics and new hits.
“This will be the first time Johnny Holm has ever played here,” Roeser said. “I’ve already had people commenting, saying, ‘We’ll have to call friends from high school and college to come out here.’”
In addition to the parade and fireworks, Monday will feature the 5K race; the KRWC Radio Road Show; three shows from the Farout K9 Flying Disc Dog Experience at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. on the south end of Central Park, South 40 in the entertainment tent at 2 p.m.; Alan Johnson on the family stage at 5:30 and 7 p.m.; and Diamondback in the entertainment tent at 8 p.m.
Community members who want to support these events have a few ways to do so.
“One is the fireworks fundraiser going on at Coborn’s, where at the checkout you can make a contribution to the fireworks,” Roeser said. “The second way you can really help contribute to help us pay for these expanded shows is come down to the park and have a beverage of choice, try some of the food. All of that money cycles back to put on all the entertainment.”