Reporting Esme Murphy
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Virtually every town has a Fourth of July parade, but Delano lays claim to having the state’s oldest parade, highlighted by 110 separate groups marching, and 25,000 people watching it.
That also makes it one of the Minnesota’s biggest, as the town’s celebration dates back to the 1850s.
Sgt. David Mathis was asked to lead Thursday’s parade, carrying the American flag.
“It’s a big honor,” he said. “It’s a pleasure when they called me up — I jumped to it.”
Fred Gordon, a 94-year-old veteran of World War II, rode in the parade wearing his original uniform.
“I am very proud to be in it — very proud to ride in it,” he said.
Then there was WCCO’s very own Mike Max, riding on the Grand Marshal’s float.
“It just doesn’t get better than this, it’s a slice of Americana,” he said.
And there were politicians, too.
Tom Emmer, who is a Republican candidate for the 6th Congressional District, shook hands with parade goers.
“If you are a politician or a community person that gets involved in community activities there is no better times in Delano and the surrounding communities than the Fourth of July and this parade,” he said. “You’ll go down this parade line and you’ll see they’re going to be stacked about 15, 20 deep.”
The festivities in Delano continue Thursday with a series of concerts into the evening. Delano’s fireworks are actually on July 6.
In Excelsior, event coordinators said they’ve already seen thousands of people show up.
“I think this event is special because it is a small town; it’s on Lake Minnetonka. We are the only free fireworks show on the lake and people just want to be by water. They want to be where it’s comfortable and welcoming,” said Laura Hotvet, executive director of the Excelsior Chamber of Commerce. “And our businesses are open, and it’s just a wonderful day for everyone.”
Excelsior events include musical performances, an air show, a parade, sand castle contests and, of course, some fireworks.
Also, the tiny town of Aurora on the Iron Range had a parade that featured both Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.