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Northern Brainerd lakes area cities prepare for fireworks shows

Pine River and Nisswa will host summer fireworks for the first time

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Fireworks have long been a traditional means of celebrating big occasions and holidays. This summer the Brainerd lakes area will offer more fireworks shows than in years before with Pine River and Nisswa joining the party.

Every city has its own source of fireworks funding. Some have finished raising fireworks money; others are still in progress.

Pine River

Pine River is getting into the summer fireworks game this year with Dam Days, formerly known as Summerfest.

"The committee was talking about how it would be nice to have some fireworks around here," said Michaela Reed, Pine River Chamber of Commerce executive director. "There's a local guy, Sheldon Speaker, who's doing fireworks. We touched base with him. He had an open date so we're going to give it a go."

The chamber seeks $3,500 in donations for a show comparable to the wintertime Parade of Lights fireworks.

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"It would be nice if it could be more, just because we could have a bigger and longer show," Reed said.

The fireworks will launch from the Pine River-Backus School practice fields just after sunset Saturday, June 25.

Fundraising for the first-time event will come primarily from donations. Reed said the chamber has been receiving private donations via social media and over the phone.

In addition, the Cass County Fair Board, which will hold its annual Cass County Fair on Thursday-Sunday, June 23-26, will contribute at least $500. Reed also said there were talks with the city of Pine River about possible contributions.

This concerted effort between Dam Days and the Cass County Fair will conclude a long day featuring geocaching, a parade, live music, corn hole tournaments, rides, a Baja rally and more.

Crosslake

Crosslake will mark the 52nd anniversary of doing Independence Day fireworks.

This year's show will kick off shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, July 2. The fireworks launch from Sand Island on Cross Lake. The view is best aboard boats on the water or from lakefront homes.

"For public viewing, it's kind of at a premium," said Crosslake Chamber Director Cindy Myogeto. "So there's just a few spaces where you can actually see the fireworks from land. One of those is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Campground. And we just ask that those folks be respectful of the people camping in the campground.

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“And the other best viewing area is Highway 16, just north of The Wharf. There's an open section there that you can park your car and see the fireworks from there," she said.

Crosslake is within approximately $2,500 of its $20,000 fireworks goal. The fundraising efforts are a unique partnership with R&J Broadcasting of Brainerd. Businesses who wish to support the show buy radio ads that air on 101.5 FM before the fireworks show.

Businesses or individuals who contribute $100 are thanked on air before the show. Those who pay $500 or more get a 30-second commercial. They all air just before the fireworks start. In addition, the city of Crosslake contributes $15,000 toward fireworks.

"They do a compilation of patriotic music that is simulcast with the show," Myogeto said. "So we get the radio guys together with the pyrotechnics and they choreograph a show. It's very cool."

Due to an increase in costs, this year's show will likely last approximately 17 minutes, about three minutes shorter than usual.

Fireworks are only the cherry on top of a big day July 2 as there are activities all day starting with the Grandpa's Run for the Walleye, a 5K run organized by the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association. Shops throughout town will participate in the festivities throughout the day and from 6-8 p.m. there will be live music at Town Square.

Pequot Lakes

Pequot Lakes continues its annual tradition of fireworks at sunset Sunday, July 3. The "rockets’ red glare" will originate from behind Pequot Lakes School as usual.

Both the Pequot Lakes and Crosslake chambers used Venmo this year, a popular "digital wallet" app for electronic money transfers, to collect donations toward the shows.

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Nichole Heinen, Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce director, said a lot of businesses are displaying posters that have a Venmo link to scan to use Venmo to donate.

“Otherwise, we accept people coming in and dropping money off (at the Pequot Lakes Chamber offices). We'll take money that way and I've actually gotten some in the mail," she said.

Supervalu and Dairy Queen, both in Pequot Lakes, participated in a roundup campaign as well, with proceeds going toward the fireworks.

Not including the results of the roundup campaign, the Pequot Lakes fireworks budget was just over $8,000 as of Thursday, June 9. For a 10- to 12-minute show, organizers are aiming for $12,000 in donations.

Like Pine River and Crosslake, Pequot Lakes has events leading up to fireworks.

"We will have the beanbag tournament like we do every year," Heinen said. "We have a youth bracket and an adult bracket, so that's always fun. We get a lot of people to play. We have a lot of different beanbag boards set up, so there's plenty of space, and we set it up on the road, which is a cool place to play."

The Rusty Crayfish Brass Band will perform live music ahead of the show, starting at 7 p.m.

Some festivities will be saved for Independence Day on Monday, July 4, including the annual kiddie parade and a new event, a pie eating contest outside the chamber building. There will be a pancake breakfast at the fire hall, a craft fair, food vendors, trampoline, bouncy house and Water Wars.

The annual Stars and Stripes Days Parade will be at noon.

Nisswa

Nisswa has a parade for Nisswa Freedom Days at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 3, and for the first time the city will also be in the summer fireworks game.

Organizers said they wanted those who came to town to watch the parade to stick around for fireworks.

"I have lived here for 30 years and attended the Freedom Days Parade for those 30 years," said Nisswa Chamber of Commerce President Pam Dorion. "And at first we drove to another town when the parade was done. Everyone was having fun in Nisswa. Why didn't we have fireworks? I talked to my board and other members and they kind of wondered the same thing, so we made it happen."

The fireworks will be launched at the community center and should be visible everywhere in town at dusk.

"The Nisswa Chamber is sponsoring them on behalf of all the members of the chamber," Dorion said. "So the funds raised from last year's fireworks and other events went to add this to make our events bigger and better."

The show costs $10,000 for approximately 15 minutes.

The chamber also worked to come up with family friendly events to keep everyone entertained while they wait for the fireworks, including holding a focus group meeting with elementary students this spring.

“We've got ways to keep kids busy until the fireworks," Dorion said. "We have bouncy houses, a unicycling unicorn and lots of other things for kids and parents to do in the time between 8:30 when the parade is over and 10 when the fireworks go off."

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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