Cold? Think Fourth of July

Legion kicks off fundraising this weekend for annual celebration

Clint Riese
News Editor

While it’s hard to imagine what triple-digit temperatures feel like while the mercury is actually dipping below zero, the dreary heart of winter can lead to daydreams of summer fun.

For American Legion Post 225 Commander Krista Goodyear, it’s high time to fundraise for this year’s Fourth of July celebration.

The effort is daunting but necessary. The Legion looks to the public for help in raising approximately $35,000 each year, and the money helps brings tens of thousands of revelers here for the holiday parade, fireworks and other activities over the five-day festival.

A common misconception, Goodyear says, is that visitors assume the celebration is put on by the city, as is the case in the annual events of neighboring communities. Post 225, in fact, for decades and decades covered all expenses of the weekend. In this day and age, though, that is no longer feasible. This marks the seventh year that the veterans organization has looked for outside help.

“It’s all through the community and all through the fundraisers that we do this, and the businesses,” says Goodyear. “Without the businesses and the community, we wouldn’t have [a celebration].”

Events

That’s not to say the Legion is simply looking for hand-outs. Far from it. A slate of entertaining events are on tap to help cover the $20,000-$25,000 still needed.

The first offering is the annual spaghetti dinner and auction, running from 5-7:30 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 26. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $7 and include the meal, served by the Ranger drumline crew, and the chance to bid on a silent auction that historically has featured upward of 100 items. The event will also feature music and a meat raffle.

The Legion is in need of auction items. Donations can be dropped off at the post at 355 W. Broadway Ave., and will be accepted right up through Saturday. Call 464-2600 for more information.

The fun continues the very next weekend. A beanbag tournament is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Post 225. The double-elimination event is limited to the first 64 teams to sign up. Registration closes Feb. 1 and costs $30 per team, along with two food shelf donations per person. Forms are available at www.post225.com.

Payout is $250 for first place and $100 for second place. The Legion will run specials during the event, which will be at Post 225 for the first time. For more information, call Wayne Radden at 612-839-4191.

A new event is in the works for Saturday, Feb. 16. Goodyear has organized a six-bar, mini-golf pub crawl that she thinks may draw in fresh faces.

“I’m hoping this can be a regular thing and be really successful,” she says.

Starting at 1 p.m., teams of four will play one to two holes of mini golf at each stop. The winning team will earn $250. There will also be prizes for second place ($100), third place ($50) and best team costume ($50), as well as a drawing for $50 among teams that register in advance.

A party bus will make loops between the Legion, VFW Post 4210, Friar Tuck’s Pub, Stella’s on 97, Vannelli’s on the Lake and the Forest Laker. Participants can expect specials along the way.

The awards will be given out at a post-crawl party at the Legion starting at 5 p.m.

Registration is $25 per person. Forms are available at the Legion or at www.post225.com.

More Fourth of July fundraisers are planned for the spring. The ever-popular fish fry/pie-throwing event will be in mid-March, and the Legion Riders hold their Red, White and Blue Run in June. The final push for last-minute donations will again come in the form of Friar Tuck’s dumpster hot tub party in late June .

Goodyear says finances for the Fourth of July Celebration look bleak now, but knows the community will come together like it always does.

“It gets tough every year, but it always happens, because everybody cares about it,” she says.

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