Aquatennial Celebration


Hap strolled towards the corner of 4th and Hennepin. It was a warm, almost hot, and muggy July evening. The streets were crowded. Everyone loves a parade and Hap and  the residents of the Twin Cities of St Paul and Minneapolis were no exception. The residents come with strollers, blankets, food, and all members of the family, including pets. The streets start filling right after the work day to assure that they have a good curbside location to watch events, picnic, chat and relax in the summer warmth.

The Minneapolis Aquatennial is a summer festival that has a long history and features activities utilizing the cities numerous lakes. Boat races but with the boats made from milk cartons. Sailing Regattas and water activities including a water show. In past years they have had major powerboat races, water ballet, volleyball, Frisbee golf, and synchronized swimming. Now they are working more with the suburbs and have varied activities, even an air show. The Grande Day Parade has always been on the first Saturday of the 10 day event. There is also a Torchlight  Parade on a week night that is larger, more colorful with the lighting on the floats, hyperactive clowns and marching units, and attracts a very exuberant crowd. 

The Aquatennial beauty pageant invites all the winners of the statewide pageants to bring their royalty and enter the parade. And like every parade, the politicians show up to work the crowd.



The 10 day run of festivities has the Wednesday evening parade called the "Torchlight". It has over a hundred units and starts right after the 5k run which comes through the route first.  The public service vehicles lead the parade in the customary US style with sirens blaring. Bands, flags, horse patrol and motorcycles all attract and hold the spectators attention.

As the evening turned into the darkness of a summer night Hap watched the lights along Hennepin wink on. The lights on the illuminated floats now provided a different perspective. Babies dozed lulled by the constant background of laughter, voices, music and vehicles.

Sometimes the crowd spills into the streets and the ice cream vendors, the kids on blankets, and the marching bands blended into a mass shuffling for position. The queens rode their floats and waved their arms off. The dignitaries, some from sister cities around the world, rode in convertibles and experienced the US phenomena of the community parade. Japan is usually well represented and has a long tradition of support for the Minneapolis festival.


Edited  Sunday, 22 August 2010