Albert Lea loves a parade

Published 8:32 am Monday, July 5, 2010

The Albert Lea Children’s Center took top overall honors in the 2010 Third of July Parade Saturday night.

The unit’s theme, “Future Hometown Heroes,” with Children’s Center staff pushing children in strollers with signs highlighting future careers for the children, also took first place in the youth category. Knights Traveling Baseball took second place in the youth category.

In the commercial category, Perkins took first place honors. Employees carried the giant Perkins flag along the route. Casa Zamora took second-place honors.

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In the nonprofit category, Calvary Baptist Church took first place and the Albert Lea Figure Skating Club, promoting its 50th anniversary, took second place.

This year’s theme was “Hometown Heroes” and the parade grand marshals were World War II veterans. They rode on a flatbed truck and waved as spectators cheered.

There were approximately 100 units in the parade from all walks of life. Because it was an election year, there were a number of political candidates. The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva marching band and the Albert Lea drumline were the lone school groups, but there were other musical groups, including the Osman Shrine Oriental Band, Minnesota Over 60 Band, Jim Lawrence Orchestra and the Alley Katz Band.

There were two groups of Shriners — from Albert Lea and North Iowa — with those little red parade cars that everyone loves. The Albert Lea Shrine Club lined up its cars after driving patterns through the streets and honked while the crowds cheered.

Another Shrine favorite, the Dragon Patrol, wove through the street and puffed “smoke” at the crowds.

The Albert Lea Grizzlies played some football in the street.

The Bayside Skiers Water Ski Show Team built human pyramids in the street and danced this year’s dance, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” much to the enjoyment of the crowd.

Groups like the April Sorensen Memorial and Albert Lea Medical Radiology Department had large groups of participants promoting their causes, including next weekend’s half marathon and the fight against breast cancer.

There was plenty of candy for the kids.

Tom Jones, parade co-chairman, said the parade went very well.

“Because it was Saturday, people were at the fairgrounds early and were ready ahead of time,” Jones said. “The crowds were great and kids were well-behaved.”

Lt. J.D. Carlson said there were no incidents prompting police attention along the parade route. The street sweepers had already cleaned up the downtown by 9 p.m. and police were making plans to barricade Fountain Street for Sunday’s fireworks by 3 or 4 a.m. They were also planning security in the neighborhood of City Beach, where the fireworks will be shot off.

Spectator Joyce Culhane of Albert Lea, watching with her husband, Rick, said they weren’t able to see last year’s parade, so they were happy to be watching this year. “I’ve enjoyed it very much,” she said.

Claire Vermedahl, also of Albert Lea, said he enjoyed the parade as well. “We miss the high school band,” he said, “so we did enjoy the other musical groups.”

His wife, Ruth, said the breeze kept the temperatures, which were in the high 80s, tolerable.

“This is nice,” she said. “It keeps people in town.”

Albert Lea loves a parade.

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