Downtown Events

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June 28, 2004 // UPDATED 2:17 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Hayley Tsukayama
Hayley Tsukayama

Downtown stages big 4th of July celebration

This year, the Minneapolis Riverfront 4th of July Celebration coincides with the Twin Cities Grand Flotilla of the Grand Excursion -- a re-creation of an historic 1854 Chicago-to-Minneapolis/St. Anthony Falls trip, when over 1,000 dignitaries and leaders of the day (including then-President Millard Fillmore) came to town via rail and steamboat.

In addition to the 11 a.m.-10 p.m. celebration's usual festivities -- including hundreds of vendor and exhibit booths -- this year's festivities include flotilla-related events such as guided tours of the Stone Arch Bridge, Mill Ruins Park and the Lock and Dam observation area, plus paddleboat and vintage steam train rides.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale will lead "A Gathering at the Falls" at 8:30 p.m. on Independence Day at Mill Ruins Park and Plank Road. This free event symbolically recreates an 1854 ceremony, in which water from the Atlantic Ocean was mixed with fresh river water at St. Anthony Falls. (This time, though, the commingled waters won't be dumped into the river; blame invasive species.)

During the ceremony, conductor James Litton will direct a program written by American Indian composer Brent Michael Davids and sung by hundreds of children at the falls.

At 10 p.m. the grand finale begins -- fireworks pop along the riverbank.

Most events are free, but some require tickets. Call 378-1226 for more information or visit

Free events

- Great views of St. Anthony: Take a break from the frenetic pace of celebration and enjoy the beauty of St. Anthony Falls. At the Lock and Dam, 1 Portland Ave., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

- Pillsbury "A" Mill walking tours: Explore the city's favorite lopsided mill up close and personal. Call 313-7793 to reserve a spot on the free tour. Meet at the northwest corner of the Pillsbury "A" Mill, Main Street and 3rd Avenue Southeast. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

- Mill City Museum: View historic 1850s dance and music performances and a "Minnesota in the Mail" postcard exhibit. The Emily Grey History Player exhibit is free with museum admission, 704 S. 2nd St., noon-5 p.m.

- Our Lady of Lourdes French-Canadian church tours: Church members will host tours of their historic facility throughout the afternoon and also invite festival attendees to the 7 p.m. mass at 1 Lourdes Place. Tours noon-2 p.m. Mass: 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

- Fourth of July parade: Tromp across Downtown with costumed volunteers from the Guthrie, the Minneapolis Police Department mounted unit and more. Begin crossing the Stone Arch Bridge, then onto Southeast Main Street and Nicollet Island. Starts at 2 p.m.

- Shakespeare in the Park: See "Measure for Measure," directed by Steve Barberio and performed by Minneapolis' Shakespeare in the Park Players. Nicollet Island, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.