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Fourth of July

July 4th in Spicer has been observed with a celebration since 1887. The earliest pictures found of a parade are from 1904.

Local business places erected floats advertising their establishments, and those floats were horse drawn at that time. The next picture is from 1917. Now the floats are pulled mostly by automobiles.

Almost always held on the morning of July 4, the parades have attracted thousands of people from far and wide. People often meet friends they see only on that holiday.

Always two bands were in Spicer to entertain people – from Danube and from Raymond. There were no high school bands in the early years. Spicer had a men’s band and a ladies’ orchestra. The first director was Mr. Swallin of Willmar; later the director was Enoch Lindholm, the local barber. New London also participated. The Salvation Army band from Willmar was also popular.

During the afternoon of the Fourth, these bands would put on concerts in the town park, where there was a bandstand. Many times there were speakers, such as dignitaries from county or state, politicians, mayors, the governor.

Many families had picnics in the park. They would just spread a blanket or cloth on the ground and enjoy the chicken, potato salad, lemon pie, and watermelon, all without benefit of refrigeration.

Booths were set up along the sidewalk by different organizations – churches, Scouts, Legions – anyone who wanted to make money. Workers cooked coffee in a large coffee pot, fried hamburgers, cooked hot dogs, served lemonade, and sold bottles of pop from a tub of ice. With no paper plates or cups, people washed dishes in a dishpan.

There were also four or five eating places within a block, a popcorn stand or two, an ice cream store. Cones were 5 cents, sundaes 10 cents, floats and malts 10 cents, pie 10 cents, hamburgers 10 cents, hot dogs 10 cents, coffee 5 cents and pop 5 cents. A noon dinner for 50 cents included soup, meal, dessert and beverage. Young girls could get a job washing dishes, for instance, at a restaurant for $1 a day (maybe for three days if the holiday was over a weekend).

One year Saturday was a beautiful, hot but nice. That night the lake flies move in. By Sunday morning there was no way that anyone even wanted to be outdoors. Trucks came and scooped up bushels of flies and moved them out.

Downtown Spicer was the center of attraction. A bingo stand and other games of chance were always available. The golf course was in the south end of town, as well as the ballpark. The merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel operated by Schinkles were popular with everyone. At times an outside carnival would come in.

Harold Thorvig was an electrician working for E.N. Farness hardware. He had equipment on a pickup by which he could speak through a loudspeaker announcing the activities that were taking place as well as advertising goods.

Fireworks have always been displayed during the evening of the Fourth. For example, the Spicer City Council minutes from a special meeting on January 18, 1929 read: “…it was decided to get 25 pounds of high explosives for the evening of the 4th.” Many residents around Green Lake draw up to Spicer in their boats to watch the display. Since the advent of lighted motorboats, their procession, in the dark, back to their landings, has been a show in itself.

Nowadays many high school bands participate in the parade, and many cities are represented by floats carrying young ladies selected as queens and attendants. Miss Spicer and two princesses make appearances at several celebrations during the year all around the state. Their coronation is always on July 4.

In these later years, a large flea market has been held, volleyball competition has been held on Saulsbury Beach, and softball games have been played at the new ball diamond.

Green Lake continues to be a popular place. The lake is busy in summer and winter. There are watercraft of every description and water-skiing shows, sailboat races, fishing derbies, snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle races, as well as annual road races and triathlons. Spicer is for all seasons.