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Community involvement sought for ‘Flare for the Fourth’ initiative

While Albert Lea won’t have its traditional Third of July Parade or fireworks for Independence Day this year, local organizations are still working on ways for people to safely celebrate the holiday amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau sent out a joint email with the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce this week promoting their “Flare for the Fourth” initiative. 

The event, called “a reverse parade” in the email, will run from June 29 through July 5, and encourages residents and businesses alike to decorate their properties in honor of the Fourth of July. 

“While of course we would all love to have our traditional staples of a parade and fireworks, taking a year off makes way for some opportunities for other ways to celebrate as a community,” said CVB and Albert Lea Main Street Program Executive Director Holly Karsjens. “With the ‘Flare for the Fourth,’ our goal is to put a highlight on businesses just as it does during the parade, and then also try to build up some of that spirit in our community that might be a little tattered right now.”

Karsjens said that, while the initiative encourages patriotic-themed decorations, it also realizes decorations can get expensive, and is not asking people to go out and buy as much patriotic decor as they can find. 

“I am hopeful that there will be some Halloween and holiday inflatables decorated in some red white and blue, or lights strung up in front trees and bushes,” she said.

There will be an added bonus to incentivize local businesses to participate, as they can sign up to have their decorations judged. A team of two designated judges will evaluate participating business decorations, and the most creative decor in each of the six wards in the city will be awarded a prize. Those looking to enter their business in the “Flare for the Fourth” competition can go to albertlea.org, click the link and fill out the form. Their business will then be added to a map of the reverse parade route, which will be made available to those who want to drive around and enjoy the decorations.

Local communities are also encouraged to partake in the celebration, and those who decorate are asked to use the hashtag #FlareForTheFourthAL if they share their decorations on social media. Karsjens said the ultimate goal is for every property in the city to be decorated, so that people’s drives home or walks around the lake will be more joyful that week. She said it would be nice for people to be able to load their children or pets up in the car to go for a drive around town to look at all the decorations. 

“Some friendly neighborhood competition could also be a great way for folks to be together while apart. We all know that this is hard on everyone, and we are all missing out on our normal summer — I feel this is without saying,” Karsjens said. “But with all the innovation and all of the thinking (outside of) the box that is having to happen, I’m excited to see all of these new things coming together that can potentially be a great new annual community event going forward — with or without a pandemic literally raining on our parade.”

 

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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