Crosslake council decides St. Patrick's Day parade should go on as planned

Brainerd's parade also set to take place as expected

People having fun along the parade route in Crosslake at a previous St. Patrick's Day parade. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal file photo

The Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade & Celebration will continue as scheduled Saturday, March 14.

The Crosslake City Council hosted a special meeting Thursday morning, March 12, in reaction to growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 and how it might affect the parade. Mayor Dave Nevin opened the meeting and immediately declared the meeting would include no public comments.

Police Chief Erik Lee and Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller shared input via teleconference. Neither made a recommendation on whether the council should cancel or move forward with the parade. Instead, they presented their findings from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and allowed the council to make its own decisions.

"It just seemed to make sense that we have some responsible dialogue regarding the parade and coronavirus and having that many people in town," Lee said. "Anything that I'm going to say is based on the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC, not personal feelings or anything like that, but right now as it stands, this morning the Minnesota Department of Health is not making any recommendations regarding organizations and community events being canceled. That being said, it's up to the individuals and communities to make that decision. That was their recommendation this morning, if you go to the CDC website. In community and faith organizations, they are saying for anything over 250 people, you might want to look at canceling the event. That being said, I think this is based on events that are inside."


Representatives of local businesses were visible among the audience at a Thursday, March 12 special meeting of the Crosslake City Council. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Lee recognized much of the crowd for the parade would be interacting indoors afterward.

"Moonlite Bay, Zorbaz, the Cedar Chest and Maucieri's are going to have a lot of people inside," Lee said. "That's up to you. That's your business. My concern is outside and what we will bring in."

Lohmiller agreed with Lee, both in deferring to the Minnesota Department of Health and CDC, but without making a direct recommendation. However, he did reference the county emergency management.

"We got an update from the emergency manager in Crow Wing County, and the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health have not put anything out in our area," Lohmiller said.

Council members took turns speaking their minds on the subject.

"Based on that, with this pandemic that's going on, we're going to have to get used to it and we're going to have to get educated by it and we're going to have choices to make whether we want to partake or not," Nevin said. "I don't think closing the parade down right now is going to extend our lives by 10 years or anything. So I think we're going to get a comment from each one of us. We gotta be smart. We gotta wash hands. We gotta cover our mouth. We got to do what they're telling us to do, but we also gotta keep living."

"We are talking about working with an outdoor event, not indoors," said council member Aaron Herzog. "I'm not as concerned about the parade itself as I am with what's going to go on indoors in your facilities, and that's where the infections and stuff potentially, if any, is going to happen. I'm struggling with shutting it down this close to the event. I'm having a problem with that."


Council member Dave Schrupp agreed with Nevin and pointed out that Crow Wing County currently has no diagnosed cases.

"Hospitals have been working to get things lined up and get ready for it. I'm hoping that continues, you know, in the future," Schrupp said. "None of us knows the future, but I agree that it's going to mess things up if we don't allow the parade to go on."

Schrupp suggested it will be up to individuals to make their own decisions, to make smart decisions and come to their own opinions.

"If this was a week ago, I probably would vote to shut it down. But we're so close right now that I can't," said council member Gary Heacox.

After all council members chimed in, Nevin said he saw three options:

  • Plan to move forward with the parade, but table the official decision just in case new information comes out before Saturday.
  • Move forward with the parade.
  • Cancel the parade.

Nevin asked if tabling the decision would be waffling. At the suggestion that the council might table the decision and leave the meeting open to make a decision closer to Saturday, one resident in the audience stood up and spoke in opposition. Nevin reminded the resident that the council was not taking public comments.
"I have the right," the man replied. "I know my Constitution and when I see wrong being done to the people that I protect in my society in God's name, I have the right to speak. It's in the Constitution. I've run for city council, I've looked at politics, I've been in the military and I protect. When I see danger knocking at my door, you're waffling."

Lee asked the resident to sit down and allow the council to continue, telling him that he would be removed if he didn't cooperate.

"We are in current, present danger and we can do something about it immediately and take precaution or let it come on," the man said before complying.


The council unanimously agreed to proceed with the event as scheduled.

The man left the room, saying, "You should all be ashamed," on his way out.

Many in the audience responded to the decision with applause.

As of Thursday afternoon, independent organizers chose to cancel some coinciding events in Crosslake, including the Clover Dash 5K and the Crosslake Fire Department’s Pancake Breakfast.

Brainerd parade

The Brainerd St. Patrick's Day parade is expected to go on as planned. At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Brainerd Community Action sent an email to parade participants with no mention of any changes.

"The parade entries are in and we’re ready for a fun-filled day of St. Pat’s shenanigans," the email stated.

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Representatives of local businesses were visible among the audience at a Thursday, March 12 special meeting of the Crosslake City Council. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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