Independence, freedom and patriotism celebrated

Published 10:37 pm Thursday, July 3, 2014

Members of area veterans organizations escort the flags at the start of the Third of July Parade Thursday down Bridge Avenue. — Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Members of area veterans organizations escort the flags at the start of the Third of July Parade Thursday down Bridge Avenue. — Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Parade shines under sunny weather

The smell of hamburgers, hot dogs and American spirit filled the air at this year’s Third of July Parade as people from all around the area lined the sides of Bridge Avenue and Fountain Street.

Sunny weather graced the community-oriented fun sponsored by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. The parade is part of Albert Lea’s yearly Fourth of July celebration.

This year’s theme was “Only in America,” and the parade marshal was Laura Lunde, president of the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation. The parade started with the national anthem, a color guard and military veterans.

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Lola Fritsch and Jane Reid, longtime residents of Albert Lea, said it’s always nice to see the military represented in the parade.

They also said the floats are nice and said it’s great to see so many children participating in the parade.

“All the things that are in this parade make a good parade,” Reid said.

Some groups, like Just For Kix and Unlimited Possibilities Dance Studio, were mostly children. However, most groups and floats had some kids along to wave at the crowd, throw candy or pass out fliers or trinkets.

The Third of July Parade lasted about two hours. There were 105 entries.

The candy is always a big draw for children and adults alike. Natasha and John Clarey were at the parade with their children, Kendal, 4, and Kallen, 2. Natasha said she likes seeing the marching band. Kendal said she likes when people give her candy.

Peyton Seeger, 4, was at the parade with her mom, Kristen. This was Peyton’s first parade and she said she likes getting candy.

Kelli Teigs, who lives on the parade route and has seen the parade many times, enjoys seeing the children that come out for the parade. She also likes watching the Shriners and their go-karts.

With Teigs was Matt Chester, a resident of New Richland. This year was Chester’s first time at the parade and he was “super excited” to see the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva High School marching band.

The NRHEG and Albert Lea High School marching bands both brought cheering from the crowd. Fritsch and Reid mentioned that it was nice to see a marching band in Albert Lea again.

The marching band was reinstated in 2012 under the direction of band director Suzanne Mauer. The last time Albert Lea had a marching band before that was 2007.

The parade featured many other floats and groups, such as bicyclists, square dancers, musical groups and Captain Jack Sparrow, all of which brought cheers and applause from the crowds sitting in lawn chairs or standing on the sidewalk on either side of the street.

The one complaint? Peggy Mines of Glenville said that she doesn’t like how chairs and blankets are set on the side of the road a week in advance for the parade. However, she still believes that the Third of July Parade is a great parade.

Crowds are expected to gather again Friday in Albert Lea around dusk at Fountain Lake Park and on boats on Fountain Lake to watch fireworks shot off from City Beach.