This 4th of July holiday weekend I found myself in the Twin Cities for the Taste of Minnesota and a 4th of July parade. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. had a food both at the four-day festival, serving their delicious grilled Shrimp & Sausage skewers and shrimp/mahi Hush Puppies … Yum!
On another positive note, the 4th of July parade was a hugely successful event … Bubba Gump’s participation helped put smiles on faces for more than 20,000 patriotic Americans who turned out to enjoy the 100+ floats and groups. I was proud to be part of this American tradition.
Now in its 28th year, this was my first experience at the Taste of Minnesota. Held on Harriet Island on the banks of the Mississippi River, the setting is more than impressive. New ownership and management has been attempting to revitalize what historically had been a food and nightly firework event into more of a musical venue. There were 5 stages and lots of top-notch musical talent. They attracted many new food vendors (including Bubba Gump) and anticipated crowds of 150,000 to 250,000 music and food lovers over the 4-day event. They had plenty of security, a perfect setting, hot but very tolerable summer weather, great food and plenty of music. The new management team was extremely well prepared and organized. They pumped a lot of time, money and effort into resurrecting what had become a stale event.
While the crowds were less than expected, those who attended were enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy the food and music. I hope the new owners and management stay as committed as they are to growing and improving the Taste of MN, and that the public discovers this gem of an event.
Kudos for the fireworks show on the night of the 4th across the Mississippi River with the city of St. Paul as the backdrop; one of the most impressive 20-minute Salutes-to-America I ever witnessed.
The 4th of July parade in the city of Apple Valley, MN is one of the state’s largest and most admired parades. While only a little over a mile long, the route is packed with residents who bring their lawn chairs, blankets, or stand up to 10 deep at places along the parade route. I saw seniors and children and everyone in between. Most wore red, white and blue … they waved flags. The warm rays of sunshine competed with the beaming smiles and cheers as the parade passed them by.
The Bubba Gump float was a shrimp net decorated F-150 courtesy of Apple Valley Ford. Gumpers from our Mall of America restaurant dressed in matching navy blue Run Forrest Run t-shirts walked along the route tossing candy to the children. Shrimp Louie, the BGS mascot, took turns interacting with the crowd along the route and riding on the truck’s tail gate. As Forrest Gump, I stood in the truck bed and gave the famous Forrest wave as vigorously as I could for the 1+ hour journey along the parade route. As I’d make eye contact, I’d stop waving and give the peace sign or a thumbs-up … frequently to receive one in return. What an awesome experience to connect with so many people in such a short time. After 16 years, Forrest Gump is as popular as ever.
I love my job. I love the smiles and joy it brings to others. I the 4th of July and I love the United States. What a great country we live in!
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Next Blog Date: July 8, 2010