This is how we Fourth

Under sunny skies, thousands turn out for Ely’s parade

by Tom Coombe
Homes and cabins, campgrounds and resorts all seemed to empty at the same time Thursday, filling Ely’s streets and sidewalks for the annual Independence Day parade.
For nearly 90 minutes, and under a baking sun, thousands watched bands and dance troupes, politicians and local organizations and even a karaoke-singing octogenarian pass them by.
The parade served as the focal point of Ely’s July 4 festivities, with Whiteside Park filling before and after the event for games, a community picnic and a performance by the city band.
Earlier in the day, an annual four-kilometer run around the Trezona Trail took place while the evening activities, held after the Echo’s deadline, were to include both a concert at Semer’s Park and the annual fireworks display over Miners Lake.
By Wednesday evening, hundreds of chairs had been lined up along Ely’s parade route and the streets were abuzz nearly an hour before the parade’s 1 p.m. start, when military fighter jets zoomed over town.
Ely’s Honor Guard led the parade, which started along Fourth Avenue East, went along Harvey Street to Second Avenue East before cutting across to Sheridan Street and back toward the city park.
High school bands from both Ely and Northeast Range took part as well as the Ely Klown Band, which led a cavalcade of walkers, golf carts and trucks touting support for the mining industry and proposed copper-nickel mining projects.
Anti-mining activists also took part, with about three dozen peopled walking the route in a group coordinated by the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
While there weren’t as many politicians as usual, given an off-election year, county commissioner Paul McDonald, the campaign of U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber and the Ely City Council were all part of the parade.
Children went home with candy, super balls, frisbees, and flags distributed by various parade participants, and Ely’s grocery stores were out in full force, giving away Stove Top Stuffing, panties and an assortment of other grocery items.
Ely’s Studio North may have had the largest float in the parade, which also included horses, Shriner’s vehicles former and current Miss Ely contestants, business floats and retired Ely teacher Byron Moren, now in his 80s, singing by way of a portable karaoke machine.