New Community Action director gears up for parade, focuses on community outreach

Brainerd Community Action is known for organizing community events, but isn't limited to that. It can also help individuals create nonprofits and write grants to get ideas off the ground.

Dave Badeaux
Dave Badeaux, new executive director of Brainerd Community Action, discusses preparations for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Parade during an interview Tuesday, March 10, in his office below Bremer Bank. Badeaux hopes to further spread the message of community action during his tenure. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

As Brainerd’s downtown community gears up for this weekend’s 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Dave Badeaux is readying for his first big event as executive director of Brainerd Community Action.

Badeaux took over in early February — just in time to get thrown in the thick of things for one of the nonprofit’s biggest events of the year.

“It’s going great,” he said of parade preparations Tuesday, March 10, noting downtown bar owners and co-organizers Denise Rathman and Steve Shepherd have been excellent to work with.

“They’ve got a pretty good handle on the operations of the day-to-day stuff,” he said. “But trying to gather everybody together and hope for good weather is an interesting challenge.”

Temperatures are expected to top out at about 30 degrees Saturday, March 14, for the parade, but Badeaux doesn’t envision that stopping fearless Minnesotans.


“But I think that’s one of the things that’s really exciting about St. Patrick’s Day in general,” he said. “And I think that’s why Minnesotans like it so much — because it’s the first day that there’s a celebration that you can maybe get back outside, and then there’s that little bit of surprise, you know, nature can always surprise you in one way or another.”

Surprise weather or not, Badeaux said his main goal for St. Patrick’s Day and other Community Action events this year — like Arts in the Park and the Fourth of July Parade — is to make things run smoothly.

“We’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel,” he said, “but taking a look at the events as we go, seeing what little changes we can make to them so that they’re as successful as possible.”

One idea he hopes to implement this year is partnering businesses with nonprofits on floats to both strengthen community relationships and help bolster nonprofits that might not otherwise have the funds to do so.

“And sometimes even staffing is an issue for a parade, so the idea of grouping together a business and a nonprofit so they can do something together, that’s something that I’m really interested in looking into,” he said, also noting candy can be costly, and building a float can be both timely and expensive.

“I think it would be fun, too, as we are connectors of the community,” he added. “So the idea of taking our business aspects and our nonprofits and grouping them together to showcase the best of the best, I think is a fun idea.”

After all, bringing the best parts of Brainerd to the forefront, it part of the reason Badeaux said he wanted to get involved in Community Action in the first place. That’s also why he decided in 2016 to run for city council, where he is beginning his fourth year of representing Ward 3 in northeast Brainerd.

“The reason why I got involved with trying to help out Brainerd in general was that I wanted to see it become the best version of itself that it can be,” he said. “And through working with the city, I’ve just had an opportunity to meet so many interesting people and hear about so many great ideas, but there’s only so much the city can do. A lot of what creates the backbone, if you will, of a community is its nonprofit organizations, or people with ideas of how to help. And that’s what really excited me about the possibility of working with this organization.”


Now having started the job, Badeaux hopes to spread Community Action’s message throughout Brainerd, letting people know what the organization does, which he said is the group’s biggest challenge right now.

“We are a part of celebrating with the community and helping to put on celebration events, but really what we are is a group that is focused on helping others who might want to help their community, but don’t really know where to get started,” he said.

Brainerd Community Action can help individuals create nonprofits and write grants to get ideas off the ground.

“Basically, we’re the place you go when you’ve got an idea to help your community, but you don’t know what the first steps are,” he said.

To accomplish that goal, Badeaux plans to meet with some of the different service groups in the area to find out what they’re interested in and what all they encompass so that when people come to Community Action looking for help or for partnerships, he can point them in the right direction.

If you go to Brainerd

What: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, kids costume contest, medallion hunt.

When: Saturday, March 14. Registration for costume contest begins at 11:30 a.m., with the contest at noon at the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Parade begins at 1 p.m. in downtown Brainerd.

Prizes: First place boy and girl in costume contest each win a bicycle. Second and third place winners get special prize packages, and the first 30 participants get goodie bags.


Best of Parade: $100, plus a prize package. First place: $50 toward Grand Casino Mille Lacs and one night of lodging. Second place: $25 and dinner for two at Prairie Bay.

If you go to Crosslake

What: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Clover Dash 5K, Find the Pot ‘O Gold.
When: Saturday, March 14. Clover Dash begins at 9:30 a.m., with registration at 7:45 a.m. and a kids race at 9 a.m. Parade begins at noon in the town square.

Update: The Crosslake City Council planned to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 12, to discuss if the coronavirus could affect the parade.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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