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Cameron Kawalec, 8, walks with an American flag while dressed as Benjamin Franklin during the Kiddie’s Parade Saturday as part of the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer

Kids take over carnival: Bemidji Jaycees events cater to children on Saturday

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival belonged to the kids Saturday.

Hundreds of children and their families came to the Bemidji waterfront for multiple free family friendly events. Among the many things to do and see was a .5K Kid's Run, the Kiddie Parade, entertainment by the Teddy Bear Band and a sawdust dig.

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The day started at 10 a.m. with the .5K Kid's Run. The race was held in three stage, with three age groups participating. Children lined up at the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on the BSU campus before racing down Lake Boulevard NE to see who could break through the finish line tape to win a medal.

Char Blashill, a volunteer organizer, said the turnout for the race was the best its ever been. "We had a record turnout," she said. "I believe there was 78 altogether."

Right after the .5K run, the Kiddie Parade took place with about 200 children and their families taking part. Bicycles and scooters adorned with red, white, and blue decorations cruised down the street while groups of flag-waving children walked behind throwing out candy and other goodies.

Blashill said the parade is very popular and hundreds turn out each year to either walk in it or watch. "There's really no organization to it. It's usually a first come-first serve, whoever's in front kind of deal. It's a very popular event," Blashill said. "They march down the street and throw out candy. We encourage the patriotic theme and different things like that so you see lots of the little fourwheelers with the motorized little cars or bikes or wagons."

After the paradegoers marched several blocks down to the lakefront, everyone took a break, sitting down at tables to have a free lunch and listen to the popular childrens' entertainment group "The Teddy Bear Band."

Ron Gustafson, founder of the band, said the group focuses on getting their audience involved in their shows.

"Our thing is to have the participation for the kids right in the lyrics of the song," Gustafson said. "The most important part is having fun."

Richard Erickson, bass player for the band, said the overall goal is to make children feel they played an important role in the show with their peers.

"Kids get the feeling that we're jumping into the sandbox with them to play rather than we're up on stage," he said.

The band played popular tunes such as "The Hokey Pokey" and children and adults alike danced by the stage. After the hour-long break for lunch and entertainment, there was a sawdust dig and a buried treasure dig activity. Special golden coins were hidden in the sawdust. Different age groups took turns searching for the golden coins and a total of 16 bicycles were given away to the children who found them.

In a separate activity hosted by Security Bank USA, children searched for two special $50 coins among sawdust and quarters. Following the mad rush to find the prizes, the children attended other events such as a bean bag tournament and face painting.

Carrie Johnson, a mother who attended the day's festivities with her 3-year-old daughter Sophia, said the event offers a good way to do something fun with her daughter.

"It's just a great way for kids to mingle and get out in the summer," Johnson said.

2014 Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival schedule

Here’s a look at the schedule for the 70th annual Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival, which runs through today at the at the Lake Bemidji waterfront. There will be another armband special noon to 7 p.m. today.

Today

8 to 11 a.m.: Pancake feed at Bemidji Fire Department.

10 a.m.: Grand parade registration at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Sixteenth Street.

1 p.m.: Grand parade travels south of Beltrami Avenue, west on Third Street and north on Minnesota Avenue.

3 p.m.: Bald Eagle Water Ski Show, following the parade.

5 to 8 p.m.: Music in the entertainment tent: Diva DJ.

Of note: There is a $4 cover charge for the entertainment tent or $1 with a button. Buttons are available for $5 and are available at the tent. Bingo closing times are subject to change depending on participation.

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