2016 Fourth of July

Thousands of people come to St. Peter's Fourth of July parade, one piece of the chamber-sponsored Old-Fashioned Fourth of July. (Nancy Madsen/St. Peter Herald)

The St. Peter Old-Fashioned Fourth of July will bring back bingo.

The game of chance will have a tent at Minnesota Square Park, which will open at 10 a.m., the same time as the parade.

“There’s always people in the park at 10 in the morning, even though the parade is going,” said Ed Lee, executive director of the St. Peter Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event. “This will give them something to do.”

The Old-Fashioned Fourth includes several pieces. The Freedom Fun Run 5k, 8k and kids’ events get rolling at 7:30 a.m.; registration begins at 6 a.m.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the corner of Broadway and Washington avenues. It runs on Washington Avenue to Elm Street, then east on Elm to Third Street on the southern side of Minnesota Square Park. This year’s grand marshals will be Howard Hermel and LeRoy “Jim” Miller, the two remaining members of St. Peter’s Last Man Club from the World War II era.

“We owe such a debt of gratitude to our veterans, to those who fought for our freedom,” Lee said. “The Fourth is about independence, freedom and liberty and red, white and blue. If not for our veterans, we wouldn’t have any of those things.”

The parade will have between 80 and 90 units, including two high school bands, the St. Peter High School Marching Saints and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School Band, as well as the Govenaires. Other musical acts include Gerry Buse’s horse trolley, Schell’s Hobo Band, SugarLoom, the Over 60 Band, Midnight Mix and the Riverblenders.

“It’s a very musical, entertaining parade,” Lee said. “That’s very intentional. We invest sponsorship dollars to make the parade super-entertaining so people will keep coming back.”

And come back they do. Locals and visitors alike find a spot early. Thrivent Financial will collect non-perishable food items along the parade route, while the St. Peter Lions Club will collect used eyeglasses along the route and also at the park.

The picnic in the park, beginning at noon, will once again have children’s activities, including inflatables, horse-drawn trolley rides and a slip-’n’-slide. Lee said the chamber increased the number of food options from about 35 to about 50, including Smokin Bros BBQ.

“They were such a huge hit at the first winter demolition derby,” Lee said. “Everybody loves the state fair for the food so we thought we could tap into that.”

The day’s festivities conclude with a fireworks display scheduled for 10 p.m. at the Nicollet County Fairgrounds, sponsored by the Red Men Club – Ottawa Tribe 49.

Because the Fourth is on a Tuesday, Lee said he expects a bigger crowd.

“It’s the middle of the week, so we think it’s a bigger day because people stay closer to home,” he said. “But that’s very unscientific.”

Reach Associate Editor Nancy Madsen at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @SPHnancy.

Nancy Madsen has written for newspapers in Watertown, N.Y., and Mankato, as well as for PolitiFact Virginia at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va. Nancy is a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

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