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Baxter dealing with multiple parade events for Fourth of July week

BAXTER — Everyone may love a parade, but Baxter City Council noted it now has a growing number of events on the calendar — from Fourth of July to thousands of churchgoers and, later, hundreds of motorcycles.

Routes, parking and a possible 25-minute closure of Woida Road were concerns addressed Tuesday for a variety of events.

The Laestadian Lutheran Church is expected to draw 5,000 to 6,000 people to Baxter for a 2012 Summer Services event at Forestview Middle School on July 5-8. The city expects as many as 22 onsite recreational vehicles at Forestview for the event and tents.

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted noted the city has experience with the Komen Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure event at Forestview, which draws about 2,500 people. The city received a request to lift no-parking restrictions on the west side of Knollwood Drive between County Highway 48 and Mapleton Road for the four-day event.

Baxter expects 200 to 600 bikes for the HOG Rally, the 2012 Minnesota Harley-Davidson Owners Group Rally on June 28-30. Tuesday the city was looking at details for the route of the HOG parade in the late afternoon or early evening of June 30 on Lake Forrest Road. Riders are expected from five states and Canadian provinces. The rally was previously in Duluth.

Council member Todd Holman has concerns about the noise, traffic and parade route. He questioned if the event had a public purpose and was told it is a celebration of Harley-Davidson owners.

Council members Jim Klein and Rob Moser spoke in favor of the event.

“I think it will draw a lot of attention,” Klein said. “A lot of people will come to see it.”

A parade permit was denied by the state for use of Highway 371, which has been used in the past for fundraising motorcycle rally rides.

The parade plan calls for the closure of Woida Road for about 25 minutes.

“That’s the only area of concern we have,” Exsted said.

“It’s a big one,” replied Mayor Darrel Olson.

Holman, who was not in favor of supporting the HOG rally, said the city is now working on two parades this year and is ill-equipped without a parade ordinance, no parade fee and output of effort for traffic control and parking issues. While the HOG rally brings in people for an economic boost, Holman said it also is bringing disruption at the dinner hour.

“It will be a fun event for people to see,” Klein said.

Moser said he was fine with the event as Exsted was confident they could make it work.

The city heard an update on the Fourth of July parade plans. Olson said they will have to keep an eye on Highway 371 traffic and people will undoubtedly attempt to cross the four-lane highway on foot.

The city is getting confirmation from the bank that owns the former golf course so that people will be able to be on the property, but vehicles may be towed.

Klein asked about cutting the long grass.

Council member Mark Cross said Brainerd Community Action is just looking for mowing of the right of way.

“It’s a lawn-chair event,” Cross said.

The council talked about parking and traffic flow, noting the parade causes congestion in Brainerd as well, but the concern in Baxter included the outflow of traffic in large numbers onto flowing traffic on Highway 371. Olson noted the Fourth of July parade in Baxter is a one-year deal.

“There are people looking for this to be a failure,” Olson said. “We were asked to help. We said ‘yes’ and we are going to try to make this work. We are going to do the best we can.”

For the Fourth of July, the city approved a fireworks display permit for Brainerd Community Action at Cypress Drive, north of Clearwater. Fireworks will be provided by Dean Kuhn of Zambelli Fireworks Northern Region, Pequot Lakes.

In other action, the council:

Accepted a $1,000 donation in materials from Crow Wing Power for flowering plants and landscape mulch and paver blocks for the Berrywood Park flower garden. The Baxter Parks and Trails Department was planning a walking trail rest stop behind the ball field at the park.

The garden was created through a collaborative effort with the Girl Scouts and Crow Wing County Master Gardeners and Extension Service.

Heard a report from Holman that the June 3 Ride with Jim with former Congressman Jim Oberstar was a “wonderful event.” The trail bridge over Excelsior Road was dedicated to the late Terry McGaughey for his work on the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Olson noted McGaughey’s was always so appreciative, often writing letters to the city and others.

He was “just really quite a guy,” Olson said.

McGaughey, who died in 2010, is credited with being the driving force behind the establishment of the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

Heard a motion by Klein to have commercial businesses read their own utility meters die for lack of a second. Klein suggested commercial properties could read their own meters as homeowners do instead of using city staff and the city could then check the meters twice a year.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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