Will we be having the Firecracker 5K and the 4th of July Parade in Side Lake this year? The short answer is – no. But for the full story, read on…
Despite the governor’s recent announcement, the Side Lake Parade and Firecracker 5K committees have made the tough decision to cancel these events for the second year in a row. While pre-planning, Covid policies and procedures played an initial decision, but lack of volunteers is what the events ultimately face as an ongoing issue.
According to Alyssa Jerulle, Committee Chair, the organization that is used for the 5K is open to scheduled races; however, due to the rules that were outlined by the MN Department of Health being quite extensive surrounding 5K’s “it is not in the committee’s best interest to proceed with the event.” Jerulle goes on to say, “While our committee would love for this event to happen this year, it’s just something we are not equipped to handle.” Jerulle went on to state, “We are in need of volunteers to put on the Fourth of July events in Side Lake. As past Committee Chair, Marie Erickson agreed, “There is a lot up-front planning with law enforcement, permits, safety plans, fundraising, clean-up etc.” While the committee has been able to make-do the past couple years, in order to continue on an additional 25-30 volunteers will be needed.
Similarly, the MN Department of Health’s rules regarding parades played an integral role in the decision to cancel the parade. Jerulle stated, “Despite the Governors plans to open, if he decides to shut it down again prior to the Fourth of July events, we are not able to adhere to the guidelines we have discussed.” The guidelines discussed, stated in the Guidance for Vehicle Gatherings, Parades, and Drive-
Ins, “If attendees remain in their vehicles (aside from restroom use) for the entire gathering, capacity of vehicle gathering is not limited….. If attendees are otherwise allowed to leave their vehicles, the event must adhere to the STAY SAFE GUIDANCE FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND MEETING VENUES, including capacity limitations… Social distancing must be maintained between members of different households when riding in a vehicle. Consistent with the restrictions on social gatherings described… If vehicle windows are open and within 6 feet of another vehicle with open windows, masks must be worn by the people in the vehicle. Organizers should consider what accommodations can be made to ensure equitable participation (e.g. people without access to a vehicle).”
The Parade Committee plans to meet to discuss the following year’s plan. “Our hope is to come back stronger in 2022. We are exploring adding additional events to the Side Lake Fourth of July events,” said Hannah Forti, Committee Chair. Jerulle added, “We have a creative group of people on this committee and I’m excited to see what we will be able to do next year! We would also like to thank all the businesses that support our parade with generous donations. Just as they have supported us, it’s our turn to support them during this time now that we are able to! Our committee cannot guarantee a shut down will not occur again, but what we do know for sure is that we wouldn’t be able to have the events given the guidance we were required to follow before due to the lack of time and volunteers needed to do it.”
Last year’s 4th of July Boat Parade may enjoy round two in 2021! We saw almost 90 boats on the Side Lake chain and over 27 boats on Perch Lake participate on a beautiful 88 degree day! This event wasn’t sanctioned by the French Township, but the enthusiasm wasn’t lost upon them. It shows how this community can really come together no matter the circumstance!
All who are able volunteer for next year’s Fourth of July events, please email email@example.com.