A new route for the Pequot Lakes Stars & Stripes Parade accomplished what planners wanted: Less traffic congestion at the roundabouts leading to Highway 371 and into Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point.
“Absolutely. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang said.
“The change came because traffic backed up beyond the roundabouts (last year), so we needed a change so people going from Breezy Point could get on the freeway. That’s where the whole conversation started. Traffic backed up and was causing congestion. That’s why we looked at a new (parade) route,” Klang said.
A Stars & Stripes Parade Committee that includes representatives of the Pequot Lakes Chamber, the city, police, businesses and the school ultimately agreed to the new parade route. The 2020 committee will include representatives of downtown retailers and the Pequot Lakes American Legion as well.
The parade started behind Pequot Lakes School and traveled north on South Oak Street behind the school, east on Brown Street next to the city cemetery, north on Front Street past businesses, east on West Sibley Street across Patriot Avenue, south on Government Drive past businesses and west on Woodman Street back to the school.
The block of Main Street between Government Drive and Rasmussen Road was closed to traffic, and the parade did not travel on that block.
“Last year was the first year with roundabouts. We didn’t know how that would affect traffic flow into town,” said Katie Wassermann, Pequot Lakes Chamber director.
The ultimate goal was to keep the flow of traffic by the highway moving, and that happened during the Stars & Stripes Parade this year. The parade is at noon July 4 each year.
“We’re taking all the information we have based on what people are seeing,” she said, noting a lot of thought and feedback goes into decisions. “I’m taking their recommendations and trying to make a great event for everyone in town.”
Wassermann said the weather cooperated for the July 3 and 4 events, and the July 3 fireworks were much improved from last year. Having the parade route travel past Trailside Park helped the crafters in the park, Wassermann said, adding there were more people in the park after the parade than in the past.
Also, bed races before the parade on July 4 were moved to Main Street, and there were 12 teams this year compared to four last year.
“Honestly, everything worked,” Wassermann said.
She shared that from June 5-July 5 this year, 4,255 people visited the chamber building. That compares to 1,825 visitor counts during the same time in 2018.