by Dennis Dalman
Sartell enjoyed a day of communal triumph Saturday, even as the shock waves of the Verso paper mill explosion were still reverberating in many minds.
On a bright, warm Saturday, June 9, the Sartell SummerFest Grand Parade began, led by a long line of firetrucks, which elicited wild cheers and applause from the thousands of people who lined the streets. The ecstatic response was a form of acclamation to the many firefighters who battled the Verso fire and kept it at bay for so many days. One man died and four were injured in the explosion at the plant on Memorial Day.
Besides the impressive fire-truck contingent, the parade included dozens of floats, special acts, clowns and high school bands.
At Sartell Middle School, where the parade ended, thousands of people – residents and many out-of-towners – enjoyed a variety of family fun, including two shows performed by the Timberworks Lumberjacks of Hayward, Wis.
The 20th annual Sartell SummerFest also included a 5k Mayor’s Race, a 1k kiddie walk-run and a Sartell Community Band Concert Friday.
After the parade and the Family Fun Fest Carnival Saturday, there was a free model-railroad train show at the Bernick’s Arena and a street dance featuring Slip Twister and DiamondBack at Great River Bowl, followed by a fireworks show.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who walked in the parade, took time to meet with workers and management of the Verso paper mill Saturday.