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Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade: Celebration, Tradition and Family Fun

When it come to great getaway destinations in the Midwestern United States, few places can compare to the natural beauty of Crosslake, Minnesota. Originating as a logging town in the mid-to-late 1800’s, it remained this way until the turn of the century. As the populace began to shift from loggers to full time residents in the early 1900’s, Crosslake underwent a transformation as well. Shops, schools and infrastructure were built, and the new industry of tourism was beginning to make its mark on the area. Now the area is home to over 2,100 full time residents and is one of the top destinations in America for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a unique getaway.


Pick any time of year for your trip to Crosslake and you won't be disappointed. The town is right on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, which offer more than 121 miles of coastline. Winters here are filled with fun activities like ice fishing, snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and ample opportunities for photography. Warmer times of year present travelers of all ages with a long list of things to do including boating, fishing, hiking, exploring, golf, biking and so much more. Local amusement parks and attractions provide fun for all ages and you’ll find wide assortment of dining options offering delicious creations. Events and festivals in Crosslake attract a large and wide reaching following. Each March the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade is a can't-miss event that’s great for the entire family


With a rich history dating back over 40 years, the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade attracts over 20,000 people each year. This is not just a parade, but a full day with events beginning early early with a pancake breakfast, the Clover Dash 5K Run/Walk and fun attractions throughout the day all over town. The parade itself runs along a 1.5 mile course and there is plenty of space for everyone to get a clear view of all the fun floats and vehicles. Take your next family vacation to the next level and kick off spring at the Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade! got the chance to interview Cindy Myogeto, Director of the Crosslake Chamber of Commerce, to talk about this great event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

CM: This is the 42nd year of the Crosslake St. Patrick’s Day Parade. When the parade was initially organized, it was held on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). If that day fell on a weekday, the parade would be at 5:00 pm when everyone got off work. The parade consisted mostly of business vehicles and fire trucks, but there were no spectators because everyone was in the parade!  In an effort to grow spectators, the parade is now held the Saturday before March 17th. We have estimated as many as 22,000 people were in Crosslake (a town with a population of 2,000) for the parade in recent years.


The parade is a family event.  From babies in strollers to grandmothers in wheelchairs, everyone comes!  Last week I was contacted by a couple who wanted March 12th, 2016 as their wedding date, but they didn’t want to miss the parade, so they chose the weekend after for their wedding.


RAL: What makes this event unique.

CM: The parade route is 1.5 miles long so everyone can have a front row seat. It’s held at a time of year when other winter sports are over (ice fishing, skiing and snowmobiling); everyone has spring fever so they are ready for a great outdoor family event. The events last a whole day with activities for all ages and you’ll see about 100 unique entries in the parade.


RAL: Take me though what people will find at the festival.

CM: Arrive in town at 8:00 am and begin your day at the Firefighters Pancake Breakfast.  After that, you can walk over to the starting line and participate in the Clover Dash 5K Run/Walk.  Take a ride in a tethered hot air balloon or do a little shopping at the arts and crafts fair. Don’t forget to buy a $5 blinkie button, which will get you some great discounts at local retailers. Wear the blinkie button all weekend for food and drink specials at local restaurants too! By noon, you’ll want to walk over to the parade staging/start area and take some pictures of yourself with the special features warming up for the parade. The parade begins at 2:00 pm


We bring in the MN Vikings Skol Drum line, bagpipers, Irish dancers and marching bands.  They all warm up for an hour or more before the parade starts and they mingle with the crowds for photos. Honestly, some of the best entertainment we find comes from the home-grown local floats and bands.


RAL: What can attendees expect to find for local lodging?

CM: Yes, we have two full service hotels that are literally on the parade route. If you get a street facing room, you can watch the parade without leaving your comfortable accommodations. They do offer two-night special packages. Both have swimming pools and restaurants attached. Once full, people looking for lodging contact the resorts located on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?

CM: Crosslake is a tourism community. The parade in March is an economic boost that our businesses depend on to carry them through until spring. The event creates camaraderie within the businesses and organization community as the parade is judged. Bragging rights and traveling trophies are earned, so the parade entries and floats are getting more extravagant every year.


The event is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. Any profits are used to market Crosslake and support the local Welcome Center. Many organizations are encouraged to participate.  Church groups, schools, organizations and foundations sell food (coffee, hot dogs, pizza) on the parade route and proceeds benefit a variety of causes.


RAL: Why should people come to the event?

CM: It’s just good old fashioned fun. Parade watchers have front row seats and the people watching is fantastic! Everyone gets to dress up, dance in the streets, meet new people and make memories. People tend to watch the parade from the same spot each year, so they make friends with the others around them who return every year. The children go home with overflowing bags of candy, beads and trinkets as the businesses are very generous with their offerings. Whether you come all alone or in a group of 30, you’ll have a great time in our friendly community of Crosslake!  

For more information about Crosslake St. Patrick's Day Parade, please visit their website.