by Tad Johnson and John Gessner
Dakota County Tribune
As the old song goes, “I love a parade. When I hear a band, I just wanna stand, and cheer as they come.”
For two of the biggest community festivals in Dakota County, loving a parade this summer will need a little attention to the calendar.
The Rosemount Leprechaun Days Grand Parade has been moved up a week and will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 19. The parade has typically been held the last Saturday of July.
Burnsville Fire Muster’s Community Parade – traditionally held on Sunday at 1 p.m. – is moving to a Saturday time slot right behind the 11 a.m. Fire Truck Parade. The festival runs annually the week after Labor Day, which will put the twin parades on Sept. 6.
The reasons behind the changes are different in each case.
The Leprechaun Days Committee said the move aims to improve logistics as the parade will be the premier event that day and not compete for volunteer committee members’ and police, city public works and parks staff members’ time since the Midsummer Faire carnival, Central Park musical entertainment and fireworks show will not all be on the same day.
It’s also an effort to improve safety as visitors will be encouraged to use the City Hall/Central Park parking lot, which will result in fewer vehicles parked in the neighborhoods. Previously that parking lot was unable to be used for parade parking because the Midsummer Faire operation.
Officials have had problems in the past with traffic control in the neighborhoods before and after the parade.
Another reason for the move will be to use the parade as a marketing opportunity for the other dozens of other events, many of which are organized by community groups as fundraisers.
“We hear from a lot of people who go to the parade who say that they weren’t aware of all of the other events that already happened early in the week,” committee president Diane Wellman said. “Our plan is to hand out our schedule of events during the parade when we have so many people in one place, so they will know about those events and increase participation.”
Wellman said moving the parade was a difficult decision knowing the effect it will have on people who have made a tradition of watching the parade in the afternoon and coming back later to Central Park at night for the Midsummer Faire.
“We know some people are going to be upset, and we respect their opinions, but we feel this will be better for all of Leprechaun Days,” Wellman said.
The final Leprechaun Days schedule will not be released until the end of June, so it is possible other events will move.
Due to the change in the parade date, the Lightin’ Up the Leprechaun post-parade event at Lighthouse Community Church will move to July 19.
At this time, other traditional last weekend of July events are expected to remain in place – the Midsummer Faire, headliner musical acts and fireworks.
Rosemount Parks and Recreation’s Run for the Gold and Shamrock Sprint will continue to be on the first weekend before the parade – July 19 in the morning at the Rosemount Community Center.
One other schedule change is that the Bluegrass Americana Weekend has been moved from its traditional slot during the first weekend of Leprechaun Days to the last weekend in June, during the Rosemount Area Arts Council’s new event – ArtBlast, which is being touted as a week of arts events June 23-28.
More updates about Rosemount Leprechaun Days can be found at www.RosemountEvents.com.
The Fire Muster parade changes are a permanent cost-saver that will help the Fire Muster maintain a budget surplus, said Tom Taylor, chairman of the festival’s executive board. Added goals are boosting attendance at the Fire Truck parade and at the festival’s Saturday-afternoon activities in Civic Center Park, Taylor said.
“We anticipate increased attendance on Saturday afternoon,” he said. “That’s the other big benefit.”
The Community Parade typically draws 7,000 to 8,000 spectators along the route, with 100 to 110 units participating, he said.
The Fire Truck Parade, featuring fire trucks and apparatus of many vintages, typically draws 1,000 to 2,000 spectators, Taylor said.
The number of firefighting exhibitors in that parade has dwindled from 40 to 50 units to 30 to 40 as gas prices have risen and area fire departments have cut their budgets, Taylor said.
Once the last truck from the Fire Truck Parade hits the corner of 132nd Street and Parkwood Drive, the traditional starting point for the Community Parade, “We will then commence the Community Parade, so people get to see both parades,” Taylor said.
More about Fire Muster is at www.burnsvillefiremuster.com.