BEMIDJI -- After months of uncertainty and countless summer event cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bemidji Jaycees are giving the community something to look forward to and celebrate.
On Thursday, June 4, the group announced the 76th annual Water Carnival will go on as planned from July 1-5 -- but with a special twist.
Now dubbed Water “Quarnival,” the event will feature returning traditions and a variety of new activities, which will encourage social-distancing and abide by current health guidelines.
“We have gone through months of meetings and organizing -- and taking a look at the latest guidelines set down from the CDC and from the governor’s office -- and we’re pleased to provide some activities and some excitement this Fourth of July,” Josh Peterson, chairman of the 76th annual Water Carnival, said in an announcement.
Additionally, the Water Carnival Grand Parade -- now dubbed the Grand “Unparade” -- will still be held, albeit with some changes. Parade floats will now be stationed and parked in the Sanford Center parking lot, allowing folks to drive through the floats while maintaining social distancing.
The Bemidji Jaycees will be stationed last in order to hand out bags filled with all the treats one would normally get during a typical parade. It will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, in Sanford Center parking lot.
“It’s really a parade in reverse,” Peterson said.
Rides and games of Merriam’s Midway, as well as the entertainment tent, will not be available during the event due to current health guidelines.
This year will also continue the tradition of the Water Carnival Button, which Peterson said is limited in number because it is a special edition piece. Both Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will be pictured wearing face masks on the buttons.
Other events and activities to take place include: Flag My Yard, Medallion Hunt, Virtual Color Run, Virtual Warrior March and the Socially-Distant Summer: Mask Fashion Show.
Peterson said the Red, White and BOOM Fireworks Spectacular is still tentatively scheduled, but there are “no guarantees as of yet.” He said the Jaycees are still in the process of evaluating current social-distancing guidelines with local emergency management for the fireworks display.
“We are excited and proud to continue this 76 year tradition from the Bemidji community, and let’s come together and celebrate the Fourth of July in grand style like Bemidji always has,” Peterson said.