A View From The Lake

This article submitted by Linda Lorentzen on 7/2/97.

As I read through the most recent copy of The Paynesville Press, I noticed that the Jaycees were sponsoring fireworks on Saturday night, July 5, to celebrate the Fourth of July. My family looks forward to watching both the fireworks launched from First Island and all the boat traffic it attracts. After the fireworks are over it is almost as much fun to watch the boats crossing the lake in attempts to find their docks while displaying their own light show. Our observance of the Fourth of July draws from celebrations in the past.

Almost a hundred years ago The New Paynesville Press announced in the July 7, 1898 headline that, "The Lake is the Means of Drawing a Large Crowd Here." In the article the writer claimed, "From early dawn 'til late in the evening the road to Koronis presented a passing show of hundreds of people who enjoy the less bombastic demonstrations on this national holiday, and thus wisely sought enjoyment at this most perfect spot in nature's realm." Picnics were enjoyed, prominent people gave speeches, patriotic songs were performed, "and the exercises closed with three lusty cheers for the ëRed, White and Blue.'" Throughout the day people enjoyed the various activities of the lake and then at dark observed the fireworks display courtesy of Dr. Pilon. "The grand finale of the day was Koronis by moonlight. The Queen of the Night arose amid the impressive silence of the surroundings, flooding the landscape with silvery light and presenting a scene peaceful, subdued, unrivaled; a scene for the artist, composer and poet; a scene capable of inspiring a deeper patriotism in people's hearts than all the noisy evidences so familiar on our glorious Fourth."

The Fourth of July celebration at Koronis in 1901 began with an old-fashioned picnic. A program was presented which included music, an invocation, patriotic songs, a speech by Dr. Pilon, the oration of the Declaration of Independence, and songs by the Glee Club. In addition, the festivities included boat and swimming races, tug of war, and other games. Cash prizes were even awarded. In the evening two thousand dollars worth of fireworks were displayed.

In the early 1920s churches in the area began to have gatherings at Lake Koronis to celebrate the Fourth of July. Nordlund church sponsored a program on the south shore of the lake at Big Sandy in 1920. That same year the Methodist church and Sunday school "held a celebration at sandy beach at Lake Koronis... Various amusements followed an interesting program." The writer noted that all of the celebrations were well attended despite poor weather and the poor condition of the roads to the lake.

An advertisement appeared across the top of one of the pages of the June 30, 1921 edition of The Paynesville Press. The VanVorst brothers invited all picnickers to spend the Fourth at Lake Koronis. "Bring the children and picnic under the cool trees in Happyland Park. While the children are swimming you can enjoy the fresh, cool breezes of Lake Koronis, third among the beautiful lakes of Minnesota. We will have a large stock of candy, ice cream, soft drinks, cracker-jacks, fruit, balloon,s etc. on hand and will have bath lockers and suits for rent from early morn 'til late at night. If you spend the day out of town, come back for a swim in the evening."

This year's festivities will inevitably include families and friends gathering for food and fun at Lake Koronis . If the weather is pleasant the boat traffic on the lake will be congested with people enjoying all kinds of water sports. And when the fireworks go off at dusk, I'll be remembering that for over a hundred years people have been celebrating our nation's birth with a view from the lake.

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