WARD SPRINGS, Minn. - Every 4th of July, thousands of Minnesotans gather for parades that feature business leaders, classic cars, politicians, fair queens and farm animals, but in one community its parade is all about getting wet.
They have all those things in Ward Springs, a tiny hamlet of about 120 residents in Central Minnesota, but once the slow moving cars cruise through, the folks lining the parade route go nuts. They go crazy!
"If you come here to stay dry stay home!" Doug Evans of Melrose told a KARE 11 crew.
Evans had close to 500 gallons of water in the back of his pick up truck.
Other pick ups rolled through the main street and kids held up shields while firing their Super Soaker guns at the crowd. They fire water balloons left and right and the crowd fights back, mostly with water balloons.
"My wife and I started with about 600 Monday night and we filled about 2,000 last night so we got about 2,600, but it's a low day for us," Brandon Schlenner admitted.
Schlenner joined his college buddies on the parade route/ Schlenner is from Fargo, N.D. and some of his buddies come from as far away as Kansas City to be here.
Worst part of the day for Schlenner was during the heat of the water battle, when he had to stop for a mid-game interview with a TV reporter.
"I want to go throw some balloons at some kids that have been hitting me all day so thanks a lot," he said before taking a water balloon in the face.
"Right now there are probably 4,000 people here," Marlene Van Havermaet said. "Probably 3,000," she said after thinking it over.
"I think this year is smaller because the fourth is on a Wednesday," her husband Dale said.
The Van Havermaet's started this parade as a joke 29 years ago. They made three floats that first year. A few years passed before their then 10-year-old son, Lance, rode his go-kart in the parade.
"It was all decked out for the 4th of July and he had a super shooter on it and he started getting people wet. Well, that was it and the jig was up. The next y ear everybody was laying in wait for him and here we go," Marlene explained.
Well this thing got big. Really big. They'll celebrate their 30th 4th of July parade next summer.
"What's the appeal? Why not? You know, people in a small town community, they get together to have fun. That's what it's all about. It's a crazy day in Ward Springs, it's the 4th of July, this is what you do," Evans concluded.
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