Downtown's water world

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July 11, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: David Brauer
David Brauer

The 66th Aquatennial features extended fun and 3-D fireworks

The 10 Best Days of Summer just got a little longer.

Friday's Downtown kickoff of the 66th Aquatennial - the Subway Block Party - will go an hour later, from 6 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of Hennepin & Washington avenues.

Partying a bit later is only one of the attractions for Downtowners who will find themselves amid the frolic of the July 15-24 event. Even if you're not a lifelong Minneapolitan, or an Aquatennial diehard, you'll probably find yourself caught up in something this year.

On Wednesday, July 20, you can watch the multitudes in the Life Time Fitness Torchlight 5K Run between Hennepin Avenue and the Metrodome. (If you'd rather run than stand, you can plunk down your $20 and register at www.lifetimefitness.com.) The run is followed by an Aquatennial classic, the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade.

(About all the sponsor names: festival organizers send hit men to media outlets that don't use them. Trust us, it's easier this way.)

Saturday, July 23 is a red-letter festival day Downtown. From 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., the KOOL 108 RiverBlast with family fun, food and local bands will happen along Downtown's West River Road. The night will be capped off at 10 p.m. by what festival organizers claim are "3-D fireworks," courtesy of your friends at Target Corp. Yes, the 3-D shtick requires 3-D glasses, which the folks with the ubiquitous red bull's-eye will give you for free. (In case you missed the link, the glass lenses are bull's-eyes.) The famed Zambelli family - who began doing this more than a century ago, when 3-D was only an apartment number - will uncork the pyrotechnics.

Recommended viewing spots for the show: near St. Anthony Main and by the Lock and Dam near the Stone Arch Bridge.

It's not just weekend and nighttime action for Downtown denizens.

Wander by the IDS Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 19-20 and you'll find what looks like a convention of "Iron Giant" fans, though it's really the American Iron Metal Sculpture Contest. (The stuff isn't junk; in past years, some top-drawer creations have turned up here.)

And as it has for years, the Aquatennial Plaza Tennis Invitational will absorb workday mid-days July 15-22 at One Financial Plaza, South 5th Street and 2nd Avenue. Four grand is up for grabs for players in the U.S. Tennis Association's Northern Section; spectators can participate in fastest-serve contests, so if you know any ringers, give 'em the heads-up. KARE-11's Belinda Jensen and Eric Perkins may or may not make fools of themselves in the station's Tennis Challenge on Tuesday, July 19.

A note about the Block Party: the headliner is 24-year-old Howie Day, whose second album "Stop All the World Now," went gold. Australian Ben Lee, former Soul Coughing lead singer Mike Doughty and Missy Higgins round out the main stage bill. The top act on the country stage is Grammy nominee Keith Anderson.

For those not content to stay Downtown, the Aquatennial has some intriguing events, including the log-rolling (plus food and other activities) on the Mississippi River (Saturday-Sunday, July 16-17), the Twin Cities River Rats Waterski Showteam (also July 16-17) and a hydrofoil show with water skiers (Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24). And of course, the venerable milk carton races (begun in 1970) and regatta (started with the fest itself in 1940) will happen at Lake Calhoun.

Except for race registration, all of the above events are free.

For a location-specific schedule, see page 13. For more on the Aquatennial, see www.aquatennial.org.