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Afton Fourth of July marches forward

This year's Fourth of July parade in Afton is expected to attract as many visitors as occured at last year's event, as shown here. File photo by Louise Ernewein

The Fourth of July is considered by many as their favorite part of summer because it's a time for family, fun and fireworks.

One community that knows how important the Fourth of July is to its residents is Afton.

The city's Fourth of July celebrations come complete with a parade, fireworks, music and fun.

"I think people really long for that old-fashioned experience without all that video game stuff," city hall office manager and Fourth of July coordinator Connie Slaten said. "You walk out your front door and the party is already there -- people just really seem to yearn for that stuff."

Last year's Fourth of July celebration brought in nearly 5,000 people.

Holiday staples will still be on hand -- the parade, games and activities and food vendors. But this year's celebration will also have a few new features to add to the fun.

WDGY radio will be broadcasting live interviews and parade play-by-plays as well as playing music. It will award cash prizes for floats. Three locals bands, the Zingrays, the Goat Band and Canoe Yard, will be performing.

In previous years Afton has hired bands for the celebration, but because of the slow economy and money crunch they have looked to local bands to volunteer their talents.

"What I think will be fun is getting the local people involved, because I think that makes it more of a community celebration," Slaten said. "Maybe if we learn anything from this whole recession experience, it's that community counts a lot more than how much money you got or what kind of fancy duds you got."

Also this year, the 2010 Census will have a booth up giving information about the upcoming census.

"Some people are really skiddish about normal census stuff," Slaten said. "I think having some information out before hand will be helpful for that."

The economy isn't the only thing working against Afton's Fourth of July however, being on a Saturday this year could also prove difficult.

Slaten said she is wondering if they will have a lower turnout than previous years, since the Fourth of July is on a Saturday, more people may be traveling out of town to cabins or other parades and celebrations.

"Other places will be having parades as well, so it's kind of a crapshoot. We'll have to see what happens," Slaten said. "Each year is different."

The Afton Fourth of July parade and celebration will be July 4 at noon. Festivities will continue throughout the afternoon. Live entertainment will be the Zingrays at 1 p.m., the Goat Band at 2:30 p.m. and Canoe Yard at 4 p.m. A free shuttle service from Valley Baptist Church, located at 860 Saint Croix Trail S in Lakeland, from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. After the festivities in Afton, fireworks will be displayed in both Woodbury and Stillwater.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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