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4th of July parades and festivals are bringing people together after COVID kept us apart

In Delano, organizers say they're seeing a 20 to 30% increase in turnout this year after cancelling their annual celebration in 2020.

DELANO, Minn. — Like a lot of things last year, the Delano 4th of July Celebration had to take the year off, but this year, they are back with a bang, literally.

“It’s quite a show,” head fireworks organizer Greg Glavan says.

The Delano fireworks show is often considered one of the best in Minnesota.

To understand why their show is so unique, all you have to do is look at the 100-foot tower they use to launch fireworks.

“We mount comets up there and there’s also a star that has comets as well,” Glavan says.

They use the tower to launch fireworks at different heights and different angles.

Glavan says this technique is rarely used in the United States.

“We try to give them the best display that we can do,” Glavan says.

The fireworks show is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.

It’s a state of the art show that is choreographed to music, but in Delano, they're even better known for their parade.

"It’s Minnesota's oldest and largest 4th of July celebration and parade,” festival organizer Alex Roser says.

"It dates back all the way to 1857."

And to Roser’s knowledge, they never missed a year, until COVID shut them down.

“It was incredibly hard to cancel last year and the reason why it was so hard is we were in such a great place planning-wise. I don’t think we have ever been more prepared than we were last year,” Roser says.

Even though the parade was officially canceled last year, a group of community members got together to host a 1-minute parade through downtown to keep the streak going.

“In my mind it counts,” Roser laughs. “It was quite a parade for how much time they had to prepare.”

The parade itself was made up of pickup trucks and American flags, not the 130-plus units that typically go through the parade route in Delano every year.

Roser says he and many other community organizers didn’t know whether they would get to host a parade this year until about six weeks ago.

“We typically have almost a year to pull this together. We got about six weeks and we went right to it,” Roser says.

The parade itself is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Roser says it’s hard to predict what the turnout will be like, but if the turnout at this year’s carnival is any indication, he says the streets will likely be packed with people Sunday morning.

“We’re probably looking at 20 to 30% more people out this weekend compared to most years,” Roser says.

“People are just excited to get out again.”

And it's not just Delano.

In Edina, it was hard to find a spot on the sidewalk to see the parade Saturday morning.

Many other community festivals and parades are also seeing large turnouts this year.

Perhaps it’s the pent-up excitement, or maybe the nice weather.

Or maybe it’s simply a celebration of freedom from COVID-19, on a weekend where freedom is what it’s all about.

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