43 years of parading for St. Patrick in Crosslake
CROSSLAKE--In its 43rd year, the St. Patrick's Day parade in Crosslake could be the biggest in its history. Float registrations were nearing 100 midday Thursday, and Cindy Myogeto, Crosslake area director of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce...
CROSSLAKE-In its 43rd year, the St. Patrick's Day parade in Crosslake could be the biggest in its history.
Float registrations were nearing 100 midday Thursday, and Cindy Myogeto, Crosslake area director of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said as many as 10 floats could show up the day of the parade if the weather cooperates.
"We're expecting pretty much a record number of floats this year," Myogeto said. "We've never had 90-some registered before the parade."
Myogeto said Crosslake businesses liken the event to the economic boost they receive on the Fourth of July, but at a time of year when it's much needed.
"Our season starts this weekend," Myogeto said. "Once the parade hits, it's the rite of spring. We made it through the winter."
Attracting business to the city at a time when the snow and ice have receded, but summer warmth remains elusive was the driving force behind the parade's establishment in 1975. That year, two Italian restaurateurs and an Irish priest hatched a plan to soothe area residents' cabin fever and get them spending money.
Tony Maucieri Sr., the 79-year-old patriarch of the family at the helm of Maucieri's Italian Bistro, Bar and Deli on County Highway 3 in Crosslake, was one of the parade's founders. He moved his family from Chicago to the sleepy hamlet of Crosslake in 1974 in the dead of winter to operate the restaurant Echo Ridge.
After that first year of adjusting to life in northern Minnesota, Maucieri and his family were prepared for business to slow to a crawl as winter approached. That's when Andy Apollo, proprietor of the recently opened Cedar Chest restaurant and bar, and the Rev. Edward Foster, an Irish-Catholic priest in town, approached him with an idea.
"We were out raking, and they drove up and asked us, 'Do you want to do something to promote business?'" Maucieri said. "And we said, 'Yeah!' And that's what we came up with."
The men settled on St. Patrick's Day, a jovial holiday naturally occurring during one of the slowest months of the year for the summer tourism-focused area.
Maucieri recalled the first few parades included eight or nine floats-mostly fire trucks from surrounding communities-accompanied by the Pequot Lakes High School marching band.
"When we first did it, we used to sell tickets," Maucieri said. "After the parade, everybody would go down to the Cedar Chest and have hors d'oeuvres, and at a certain time, 5 o'clock or so, the Cedar Chest would close and everybody would come down to the (Echo) Ridge, and we'd have dinner and music."
Over the years, Maucieri watched as the parade continued to grow after a tough couple years of getting people on board with the concept.
"It was kind of hard. We didn't have many floats. A lot of fire trucks. After the second year it seemed like we had a few more, and then it just kind of snowballed," Maucieri said. "Every year it just kept getting a little bigger and a little bigger and a little bigger, and then after awhile it was, 'Let's go to Crosslake for the parade.' I think we're one of the biggest ones (in the state) right now."
More than 40 years later, Maucieri is the last living founder of the parade and remains a fixture. He's tasked by his son, Tony Maucieri Jr., to play a character each year on the restaurant's parade float entry. He said he often doesn't know what he'll be dressing up as until the night before-whether it's a mob boss or a politician.
"I can't get out of being on the float all the time," Maucieri said with a laugh. "I don't even have anything green, I've been wearing costumes all the time."
Although the plan for the Maucieri's float is still a secret, Myogeto pointed to a couple new additions to this year's celebration those who attend can expect. Four different Shriners International groups will perform in the parade, each with different small vehicles, including little boats and military Jeeps.
"We're thrilled to have Shriners here, because they're very entertaining in the parade," Myogeto said.
The chamber of commerce will provide stipends to the groups, which will in turn be donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children.
Another charitable project new this year-one that will also benefit children in need-is limited edition Love Your Melon hats, specifically made in honor of the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day parade. The brand donates 50 percent of its profits to nonprofit organizations working toward improving the lives of children suffering from pediatric cancer. Hats in three shades of green, complete with a label stamped with "Crosslake, Minnesota," are for sale. Visit www.crosslakebeanie.com to purchase one of the hats.
Myogeto said as many as 20,000 people could pack into Crosslake this weekend. The National Weather Service predicts a high of 41 degrees for Saturday. She said when the weather is nice, the numbers rise as people from surrounding communities choose to come out to the parade as well, not only those planning the first trip up to the cabin.
"We're actually preparing for that this weekend," Myogeto said. "The signals are that we're going to be busy."
If you go
The 43rd Annual Crosslake St. Patricks Day Parade
2 p.m. Saturday, beginning in Town Square and ending near C&C Boatworks.
Visit www.pineandlakes.com/news/4235475-share-your-charm-crosslake-saturday for a full list of the weekend's events.