For the 88th time, FL will celebrate the Fourth of July

Post 225 celebration set June 29 to July 4


Rain or shine and road construction never mind. What will be will be when American Legion Post 225 rolls out its 88th annual Independence Day celebration in Forest Lake.

Some young fans of the Fourth of July parade gather at the Forest Lake event in 2011. (File photo)

The annual event starts Friday, June 29 and continues for six days capped on Wednesday, July 4 with the 10 a.m. parade and the 10 p.m. fireworks over First Lake.

“Freedom — The American Dream,” is the 2012 celebration theme. World War II Army Air Corps veteran Ed Hinrichs of Forest Lake will serve as parade grand marshal.

Many of the long popular celebration events return this year, but road construction on W. Broadway Avenue is offering up some twists and turns for Legion and city of Forest Lake planners.

The parade is set to follow its traditional route starting on Broadway at 6th Street and moving east to Centennial Drive. With the Broadway Corridor project nearing completion and center medians now in place, the parade will use the north side of the street for its west to east march.

The official starting point for the route is 6th and Broadway. Because of the medians, parade units that have used SW 6th Street to roll on to Broadway from the south will be shifted to SW 7th Street where they will enter Broadway and move up to 6th Street. Broadway construction will be suspended for one week starting Friday, June 29 with two lanes open in each direction.

There is no change for the parade units in the second division that line up on the north side of Broadway and move to Broadway via NW 6th Street.

“This might be a good year for parade watchers to consider using Centennial Drive, NW 2nd Avenue or Lake Street,” said Forest Lake Police Capt. Greg Weiss.

Weiss said on Tuesday of this week the police department has been told by Broadway project managers that Broadway will be open for traffic in both directions starting this Friday. All side streets currently closed are also expected to be open, he said.

That should greatly improve traffic flow, Weiss said, and help ease parade headaches.

Once the parade route reaches Centennial Drive, there should be no more hurdles to clear. The route follows Centennial north to NW 2nd Avenue before turning east for one block. At Lake Street (US-61), the route moves south through the downtown. At SW 4th Avenue, the route turns west and ends at the Central Learning Center at SW 4th Avenue and SW 4th Street.

Based on this week’s construction update, Weiss said parade viewers along Broadway will be allowed to sit or stand in the center median area, but chairs and blankets will not be allowed.

People won’t be allowed to move to the median area until Broadway is closed to vehicles, somewhere around 9:30 a.m., Weiss said.

Main Events

Post 225 will kick off its celebration with Miller High Life’s “Salute to the Troops” featuring KQRS 92’s Brian Zepp from 5-7 p.m., Friday, June 29 at Post 225, 355 W. Broadway Ave. The two-hour event will include music, prizes and the carnival rides of Magel’s Midway.

Post 225 will serve as celebration headquarters.

The Sons of the American Legion bingo tent  and the Voiture 44 40 et 8 beer wagon will be in operation daily. The Post 225 kitchen will provide food service and live music.

The kitchen menu will include burgers, brats, hot dogs, fries, onion rings, barbecue sandwiches and beverages.

Musical acts include the Jackson Blues Band at 8 p.m. Friday, the JD Hunter Band at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and Shake Down and TJ the DJ at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

The carnival rides and attractions of Magel’s Midway will be in operation on the Legion grounds all six days. Unlimited ride packages can be purchased each day.

More than 150 units are expected for the July 4th parade, which starts at 10 a.m., rain or shine. Parade fans are asked to arrive early and take into account the road construction issues that are impacting the west end of the parade route.

Chairs and blankets are not allowed along the parade route until sunrise on the day of the parade, according to city ordinance.

Broadway will be closed to through traffic starting at 9:30 a.m. and US-61 will close closer to the parade start time.

The parade will open at 10 a.m. with a fly over featuring historic war planes.

Post 225 parade planners are still in need of convertibles to carry special guests. Anyone with an open car which they are willing to drive in the parade may call 651-464-2600 for more information.

The Legion is also extending an invitation to any active duty or reserve military member to join the combined Legion-VFW Post 4210 color guard for their annual July 4th march. Area residents wishing to march should check in at Post 225 at 9 a.m. on July 4.

The Legion’s big day will conclude at 10 p.m. with the fireworks display over First Lake. Lakeside Memorial Park is a good viewing location.

Earlier in the day on July 4, Lakeside Park will be the setting for two special concerts sponsored by the Forest Lake Park Board.

Shake Down will be on the gazebo stage at 5:30 p.m. followed by Charlie O at 8 p.m. Charlie O will present his annual fireworks concert which leads in to the gigantic Legion fireworks over the lake.