July Fourth celebration is a blastThere was something for everyone in Cloquet on July 4th.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
There was something for everyone in Cloquet on Wednesday.
For athletes or folks who simply wanted a challenge, the second annual Sawdust 5K was a great way to start the day. The race began in Pinehurst Park and followed a hilly route to end in the same place, where runners could take advantage of The Beach swimming facilities to cool off.
Parade-goers were treated to a fly-over just before the parade began at 11 a.m., which featured members of the Cloquet-based Crazy Troop of the United States Army National Guard and their family members as Grand Marshalls.
Then the crowd followed the lead of the Cloquet Community Band and moved from the parade to Veterans Park in the heart of Cloquet for an afternoon of free family events. There were three bouncy castles, pony rides, skateboard demonstrations, live music by Everybody’s Uncle, a dunk tank, wiffleball and the ever-popular Dash for Cash – $500 worth of quarters donated by area credit unions and banks and dumped in a massive pile of sawdust for kids to dig through. Once they found their riches, there was plenty of food to spend it on, including homemade corn dogs, tiny donuts and freshly squeezed lemonade, plus B&B brats sold by the Cloquet-Esko wrestling team and its supporters.
Hermantown resident Rich Heine gave the day two thumbs up. He was there with his family and a second Duluth-area family.
“It just reminds me of a classic July Fourth,” he said while waiting for the Dash for Cash to start (two of his daughters participated in the digging). “It’s everything you think a small-town celebration should be. It reminds me of a Jimmy Stewart, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ sort of thing.”
In fact, Heine and his family found the day so charming, they called a third family to join them for the afternoon.
Renee Birman, one of several people who worked together to organize this year’s events, said she looked around at the lines for all the different activities and “smiled inside.”
“Our goal was to have a free family fun event that would be memorable for people,” she said. “I was astonished by all the families and children that came out. It was such a huge event and so successful.”
Two wagons traveled a route between Veterans Park and The Beach at Pinehurst Park, which had its own rocking Fourth of July party going on from 2-4 p.m. There was music by DJ (and school board member) Duane Buytaert, plus fun games and prizes by Members Cooperative Credit Union and Cloquet Community Education.
As the day turned to evening, all eyes were on Veterans Park, where a magic show, some spectacular lightning (but only a short, light rain) and the movie in the park preceded the fireworks.
This year’s fireworks display was more than 50 percent larger than in recent years, thanks to a generous donation of $5,000 by Shamrock Landfill Inc. and an almost equal amount of event funding by the Cloquet Kiwanis Club. Many other area businesses also contributed to help pay for the day’s events, plus the city of Cloquet provided all facilities and staff assistance free of charge.
When the day was over, Deb Ostland voiced her approval of the events.
"It was great to have a fun and free family day," she said in a text to an organizer. "We had a great time! Music, games, fireworks ... the movie is always my favorite. Thank you!"
Visit our online photo galleries of the day linked to this story.