By Edie Schmierbach
---- — ST. PETER — Expect to see more red, white and blue in today's annual procession down Washington Avenue. Amid the sea of parade units are marchers competing to be The Person Best-dressed in the Colors of Our Nation's Flag.
Contestants may dress as Uncle Sam, Betsy Ross and Abe Lincoln or wear other patriotic costumes, but they must be part of the parade to qualify, said Ed Lee, new president of the St. Peter Chamber. Contestants may march with a parade unit or meet up with other costumed competitors at the intersection of Evenson Street and Washington Ave.
The new competition has been added to the mix of activities that are part of today's St. Peter's 43rd annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade and Picnic in the Park.
Comfortable weather is predicted this morning, when about 10,000 people will be lined up to watch the parade, which starts 10 a.m. at Elm Street and Broadway Avenue and concludes near the south side of Minnesota Square Park. Former Fire Chief Windy Block is making his debut as the grand marshal.
After watching 90 parade units pass by, many attendees willingly stand in line to buy barbecued chicken dinners — St. Peter's most famous Fourth of July meal. Also on the Minnesota Square Park grounds are vendors offering more than 35 summer treats — ice cream, bratwurst, hot dogs and beverages.
Comedian-magician Michael Callahan is the emcee for events in the park, including three-legged races, watermelon-seed spitting, hot-dog eating and hula-hoop contests. Mayor Tim Strand will speak and a flag ceremony will be followed by the singing of the national anthem.
An annual tradition, the Governaires Drum and Bugle Corps will start off the Independence Day entertainment. New pavilion performances include a patriotic show by the Riverblenders and music by Minnesota Hall of Fame inductee Sandra Lee and the Velvets.
An arts fair will feature local talents and their works 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
After breaking for a few hours, the celebration re-ignites with a fireworks display tonight at Nicollet County Fairgrounds.
St. Peter street crews have been busy on the north end of town this summer. Lee said he's received assurance from officials that roads near the fairgrounds will be open in time for tonight's fireworks show.
Red, Hot and Boom
Mankato's annual Red, Hot and Boom celebration begins 5:30 p.m. today at Riverfront Park.
The event includes a performance by The Murphy Brothers Band at 7 p.m. The fireworks show will begin promptly at 10 p.m.
The concert is free and open to the public. Coolers are welcome. No glass contaniers, pets, or grills.
If you go What St. Peter Old-fashioned Fourth of July Parade When and where 10 a.m. today, down Washington Avenue Fireworks displays St. Peter -- 10 p.m., Nicollet County Fairgrounds Mankato -- 10 p.m., Riverfront Park Waseca -- 10 p.m., over Clear Lake Sleepy Eye -- dusk, Allison Park