Big Lake sure seems to love a parade.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Lake has hosted a handful birthday parades and a Class of 2020 graduation parade.
But one of the most unique parades might have been held Saturday, June 13 when a couple hundred people took to city streets on ATVs for about two hours in a parade-like format billed as the Big Lake ATV run.
Big Lake is unique in that it allows the use of ATVs on city streets. The Big Lake City Council this spring passed an ordinance allowing all-terrain vehicles and some other recreational vehicles on the streets.
At A city Council workshop this spring, Councilmember Scott Zettervall suggested the idea of an ATV parade or ATV run to raise awareness of the new ordinance.
“I wanted this event to set the tone for the new ordinance,” Zettervall said.
The councilman set three goals early on: To be safe; be respectful of city residents when riding an ATV; and have fun.
The Big Lake Police Department endorsed the idea, which then received approval from the Big Lake City Council.
That ATV run became a reality June 13. Zettervall was unsure how many people might participate in the event. He suggested somewhere between 20 and 200 people, but was surprised when about 250 expressed interest in the run. Many gathered at Lakeside Park before the scheduled 11 a.m. ATV run on June 13.
“The first participants started arriving at 9:20 a.m. and by 10:20 a.m. am the parking area we reserved was nearly full,” Zettervall said. “We had about 200 people show up at the park with about 150 participating in the ride.”
The event was family-friendly and included kids, parents, and grandparents. The atmosphere was like a tailgating experience, Zettervall said, with everyone socializing and checking out each other’s vehicles. The vehicles included ATVs, side-by-sides, 3-wheelers, and one golf cart.
“Some vehicles were tricked out far beyond stock and many proudly carried the American Flag,” Zettervall said.
As the caravan of ATVs departed Lakeside Park, the sidewalk was lined with people waving and taking pictures. In places throughout the route, residents lined the side of the road in parade like fashion waiving as we drove by.
Big Lake Police controlled intersections throughout the route allowing the group to safely cross as a group.
At the end of the event, participants were in the middle of town where they were encouraged to visit local businesses and restaurants.
“I think this was the feel-good moment of the summer so far,” Zettervall said. “It demonstrated what Big Lake is -friendly and inclusive.”
“It was an incredible experience and the feedback has been 100 percent positive,” he said.
That’s no exaggeration based on comments on Facebook following the event.
Joe Berger said his grandkids had a blast and they went to Dairy Queen for lunch afterwards.
Lonnie Francis said the ATV run was awesome to participate in.
“Loved the parade feeling with onlookers waving and seeing their smiles. Made our day,” said Francis, who noted that they ate at McPetes afterwards.
Ashley Borchert said she and her husband definitely would love to participate in an ATV run again.
And Randy Ripp added, “Yes, was nice to ride the quad to Trails for a turkey melt.”
“Many have asked us to do it again this year or to make it an annual event, and we are certainly looking to give these people what they want,” Zettervall said.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com