Parade time, location among changes
Everybody loves a parade, but can they find it?
Russ Korpela, New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, admits there might be some confusion with this year's Fun Fest parade plans.
The annual event has been moved to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 15, instead of the traditional Sunday time slot.
The parade route has also been shifted off of Knowles Avenue, due to road construction issues. The parade will follow a route down East Sixth Street, north on South Arch Avenue, and east of East Third Street. The ideal viewing locations could be along the west side of the middle school property, where the judges and announcer's stand will be located.
"We suspect we're going to see a few lawn chairs popping up on Knowles," Korpela said of people's habit of scoping out the best viewing along the downtown route. "But it's not along there this year."
He noted that this year's route is only temporary, and the parade will return to its traditional path in 2007.
"The route is temporary," he says, "having it on Saturday night is permanent."
The switch in days is part of the Chamber's attempt to breathe new life into Fun Fest.
Organizers hope when the parade is done that many people will choose to travel to the festival grounds and enjoy music, entertainment and food that is offered.
"It makes the parade a more central part of Fun Fest, rather than just the ending," he said. "It packages the festival nicely for families to enjoy."
In the future, parade backers also hope to attract more high school bands to the event due to the Saturday evening time. Some area bands don't march on Sundays, and an early evening start will ensure some slightly cooler conditions.
Because Fun Fest falls later in July than normal this year, Korpela said the parade lost a number of marching units already. They will work hard to boost that number back up in the future.
As a result, this year's Fun Fest parade will include about 70 units (including four bands), compared to the typical 100-unit parade (with 12 bands) the community is used to.
"Having a slightly smaller parade this year is not a bad thing," he said. "With the new route, the logistics are tighter and it's better not to be too big. It will still be a fun event for people and will last an hour or an hour and a half."
Those watching along the temporary parade route are urged to be especially careful with their trash and behavior.
"We're asking people to be very respectful of other people's lawns," Korpela said. "We want to try and have as little impact on the neighbors as possible. And we certainly do appreciate the patience of the people who live along this route."
Instead of the traditional naming of a grand marshal for the Fun Fest parade, organizers are inviting all veterans who have served the country since 9/11 to lead this year's event.
Soldiers, both active and discharged, are asked to attend in uniform, if possible. Participants are asked to meet at the beginning of the parade route (Starr Avenue and Sixth Street) prior to the start.
"We have a very strong tradition in New Richmond of honoring people who have served our country," Korpela said. "People want to salute them as veterans."
The Chamber is still looking for volunteers to help staff this weekend's Fun Fest. Call the Chamber office if you'd be willing to help on any of the days.