BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Delano 4th of July Celebration patrons will be able to cool off in the Delano Splashpad; log onto faster wifi; use credit and debit cards to pay for burgers, beer, and more; enjoy a new walking path; get in and out of the bingo stand easier; and, likely, have a couple extra rides to choose from at the carnival when the festivities kick off Friday, June 29.
All of these enhancements were made possible by a number of improvements and new features at Central Park.
“They’ve done so much to the park,” said Alex Roeser, chairman of the Delano 4th of July Celebration Committee. “ . . . I don’t think I’ve ever seen the park look this nice and put together.”
The most obvious changes are the additions of the splash pad and concessions building.
“The splash pad is a huge asset,” Roeser said.
He dismissed rumors and conjectures of the new feature negatively affecting the carnival.
“I walked around the park with the carnival owner (Mike Featherston). He said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll get everything in here, plus more,’” Roeser said.
That is due, in part, to the loss of two trees as a result of high winds, he said.
A specific mainstay of the carnival, the carousel is set to remain across the street from the entertainment tent.
“The merry-go-round will probably still fit in the same place, so a 51-year tradition will continue,” Roeser said.
Many people had voiced concerns that that might not be the case.
“Sometimes, people have a tendency to panic and think one improvement is going to ruin others,” City Administrator Phil Kern said. “We’ve been very careful to work with many different stakeholders and made sure we were doing it in a way to help the community without harming others.”
Many also contributed to the vision and construction of the concessions building, that will not only be used for the 4th of July, but many other events, family reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties, and whatever else the community would like to use it for, Kern said.
He noted that nonprofit organizations fully funded the modern kitchen inside of the building.
He believes the building “complements the character of the park very well and does not change the nostalgia of Central Park.”
When the hamburger and Boy Scout pop stands were replaced with the concessions building, the sewer and water lines were replaced, and electrical lines were buried. Doing so required digging up the nearby asphalt, which has since been replaced with a concrete walking path.
Another improvement connected to the new concessions building will enable better online access for individuals throughout the park.
Not only is there now high-speed broadband service in the building, but it is being projected throughout the park.
“When you’re down there, you can be posting all your pictures and checking in,” Roeser said.
Patrons will be able to stream the music accompanying the fireworks show via the KRWC channel on the TuneIn app.
They will also be able to use credit and debit cards to pay for purchases at the concessions building and beer stands.
“We’ve been talking about that for a number of years,” Roeser said.
In addition to the new buildings and features, existing buildings have also been improved.
Bingo players will certainly notice a difference.
“The building is essentially sinking, so the benches go with it, relative to the slab around it,” Kern said. “Seats in some locations were no more than 6 inches off the ground. It made it very difficult for people to get in and out of the bingo stand . . . The public works department has put effort and labor into raising up the seats along the bingo stand . . . We hope to have a more permanent, long-term solution to it, but this will allow the building to be viable and usable this year for the 4th of July and other events.”
That building was also reroofed, as was the beer stand, with insurance picking up the tab due to storm damage.
“We also reroofed other buildings in Central Park, the pork chop stand, the bathroom by Zitzloff Field and the grandstand by Zitzloff Field,” Kern said. “Based on volume pricing, and the fact that the contractor was already in the park, we got a price we otherwise couldn’t have gotten, and figured now was as good a time as any.”