Maple Lake’s 41st annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Saturday, March 17, was one of the biggest and best yet.
The spring-like weather, with sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the high 40s, drew an estimated 6,000 people to town for the Grande Day Parade and accompanying attractions such as the petting zoo, food stands, and a performance by the Rince Nua Irish Dancers.
By the start of the parade, around 1:40 p.m. the Silver Creek Sportsman’s Club had already sold all of their 750 highly popular pork chops, parade chairperson Irene Hudek said. The cheese curd booth was just as popular as were the hamburgers sold by the Maple Lake Fire Department a block away at the fire hall.
Spectators were standing 10 to 12 people deep along the parade route and cars were parked as far out of town as the Dollar General.
“I think this was probably one of the biggest ones we’ve had as far as spectators go,” Hudek said. “It was a perfect day.”
While last year people were dressed in snowsuits and hats, this year many were wearing short sleeves and even shorts.
A total of 118 units were in the parade, representing communities, businesses, and clubs from the surrounding area and they weren’t stingy on the candy. Tykes darted here and there for every dropped treat they could find in the streets and most came away with a hefty bag full.
Pastor Culynn Curtis started the parade off on a good note by serenading local veterans with America the Beautiful. Honor guards from six towns were represented including the Maple Lake American Legion post 131, the Maple Lake VFW post 7664, the local Wat-KIM-VALLEY POW-MIA: Vietnam veterans, and the Wright County VFW Post 1901 among others.
The Team of Jeff Rivers and Anna Pribyl presented the parade line-up at the judges stand as each unit passed while a block away, SWTV cable channel 181 captured it all on camera.
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