4th of July paradegoers make new memories, keep tradition alive

Though the reasons differ for why many paradegoers come out to watch the Brainerd Fourth of July parade, all look forward to the memories they make along the way.

Brainerd July 4th Parade
Kara Schaefer, left, rides with her husband Brainerd firefighter Henry Praska in an antique fire truck Monday, July 4, 2022, during the Brainerd Independence Day Parade. Following the Brainerd Fire Department unit is the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Tradition, nostalgia and to get a good seat for the fireworks.

Those were just some of the reasons many paradegoers offered Monday, July 4, when asked why they chose to go to Brainerd on the Fourth of July.

In the same spot on East River Road since 2010, Lori White said she and her mother used to sit under the tree and watch the parade go by. Though her mother died in 2012 and the tree that provided the shade they shared together was no longer there, White continues the tradition in the same spot.

“There’s a lot of good memories in Mom’s spot,” White said.

White said when she first moved to Brainerd in 2010 she ran into a family friend, Norm Armstrong, who invited her and her family out to the parade.


Closeup of young girl with red, white and blue painted face
With her face painted as an American flag, Emma Richter watches the Brainerd Fourth of July Parade on Monday, July 4, 2022, with her family.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“Norm used to give the kids rides in the parade,” White said as she talked about how Armstrong was one of the past motorcycle leaders in the parade.

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The group left around 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, on a rucksack 6-mile march to remind others of the meaning behind the holiday weekend.

Coming out for the first time was Josh Klukas and his family, who were most excited about seeing their daughter, Gabrielle Klukas, in the marching band and walking in the parade.

Driving in from Verndale nowadays, Larissa Jones said she has been attending Brainerd’s Fourth of July festivities for almost 30 years.

“I've been coming here since I was a kid,” Jones said. “It’s familiar and safe. The drive from Verndale is a trek — but it's nostalgic.”

Eating some of Grandma Lori Robben’s homemade chicken salad and fresh watermelon on the curb of Laurel Street was Jerico Robben, who just couldn't hold back from getting a bite of her juicy piece of fruit.

“We brought our kids every year and now we're passing along the tradition to our grandbaby,” Lori Robben said.

This was Jerico Robben's first time getting some of Brainerd’s finest ground candy.

For Debra Mead and Erv Gobel, who live out near Brainerd International Raceway and were out for their 32nd year of festivities, the parade was something for them to do as they waited for the fireworks to start.


“The parade is a good place to see all of our friends who we haven't seen in a while,” Mead said.

Gobel, on the other hand, said he was there for the “love of candy.”

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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