Crowds filled the streets of downtown Cloquet on Sunday, July 4, as people came back out to celebrate after a year of pandemic cancellations.
Despite the 90 degree temperatures, with lawn chairs and sunscreen in hand, community members seemed determined to make the most of the day’s festivities.
The day was off to an early start with the Sawdust 5k Run/Walk, which began at 8 a.m., and was followed by the Sawdust 1-Miler Run, a car show, a parade and basketball scrimmages — oh, and of course, fireworks planned for dusk.
The parade's grand marshals were health care workers, whose float was followed by a drum performance from the Cloquet Community Band.
“It’s nice to see a lot of people out having a good time,” longtime Cloquet resident Carmen Krew said.
Krew said she thought many people took public events for granted prior to the pandemic and said she was trying to make the most out of this year’s Fourth of July.
The same seemed to ring true for others, with children scrambling after candy during the parade and adults beaming in the sunlight.
“So much fun,” was the phrase used by Katie Walkowiak to describe the day.
Walkowiak and her son, Alexander Nordin, were there to watch Walkowiak’s daughter dance in the parade with Shooting Stars Dance studio. Although, Alexander, 11, seemed to be content with candy as he waited intently for the next wave of treats to hit the pavement.
Along with candy, water was another treat given out, as people on some parade floats gleefully sprayed the crowd with water guns. The Ed Oman Construction float crew even splashed water from a pool as they drove through the street.
The crowd also found other ways to keep cool. Tami and Craig Meseroll said they arrived 40 minutes early to get prime real estate under the shade of a tree. Those with a similar idea found shelter from the sun under the awnings of some Cloquet Avenue businesses, while others got creative.
Heather Koski attached an umbrella to her lawn chair to get some relief from the heat. While Koski said her children were enjoying the parade, she wished there had been more activities available, such as the bouncy house that has made an appearance in past years.
Even with this absence, the day's events seemed to leave its crowd with smiles on their faces.
The car show, hosted at the Northeastern Grill & Saloon, also drew a range of spectators, with vehicles stationed throughout the street and parking lot.
“It’s nice to be back after COVID,” Burt Whittington, owner of the Northeastern, said.
According to Whittington, this year’s show was the 18th event, and while it wasn’t as large as usual, he was grateful for the turnout after being closed for almost a year.
“It’s coming back,” he said.
Ricky Defoe and his grandson, Jaxon Sherer, were also out at the car show. Defoe grew up around cars and said the show brought back a feeling of nostalgia.
“We can’t miss this car show,” he said. “It brings back them younger days that we long for.”
Defoe said it was nice seeing people having fun and having hope again.
“We’re loving it,” he said. “We’re gonna take it all in.”
This story was updated at 9:07 a.m. July 9 to correct information about the Cloquet Community Band. It was originally posted at 3:34 p.m. July 4. The Pine Journal regrets the error.