About 20 community members were joined by an equally large group of bicyclists in Kiwanis Park Tuesday afternoon to celebrate another addition to the Mississippi River Trail.
Brainerd, Crosby and Aitkin serve as host cities for the trail. Because of their status, each city features an informative route-marking kiosk with a map of the trail and some history about the river.
Community members celebrated the recent addition of the kiosk in Kiwanis Park Tuesday with an official ribbon cutting. Among those gathered were Brainerd Mayor Ed Menk and Crosby Mayor Joanna Lattery, both of whom briefly addressed the crowd.
Both the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area and the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail have brought a boon to Crosby, Lattery said.
"Crosby is growing because of the trails and cycle sports," Lattery said.
The Mississippi River Trail is a neat idea and it works well with the community, Menk said.
"Brainerd is a city of all seasons," Menk said. "I suspect we'll see a lot of fat tire biking in the winter."
Rod Osterloh, chair of the Brainerd Riverfront Committee, said the Mississippi River connects people through activities like shipping and recreation. It's been a constant in the United States for its entire history, he said.
"This trail offers a way to experience the river in a way we haven't had before," Osterloh said.
Osterloh welcomed members of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota's Headwaters to Hills trail ride, which takes bicyclists all along the Mississippi River Trail. The bicyclists took a break from their ride to observe the ribbon cutting. The route originates at the river headwaters within Itasca State Park and continues through 10 states to the Gulf of Mexico, a 3,000-mile network of trails.
Carol Zoff, trail coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, provided some background information on what was necessary to make the Mississippi River Trail happen. Various grants have provided for signs along the trail, she said, in order to make it easy for bicyclists to identify where they are.
"It's designed to encourage revisitation or extend someone's visit length," Zoff said.
Karl Samp, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation executive director, commended the committee for recognizing and taking advantage of the Mississippi River.
"This will help bring in workers and keep them here," Samp said.