Nancy Edmonds Hanson
Moorhead has been celebrating its spirit every September since the World War II era… but even with the ups and downs the city has weathered over nearly seven decades, 2020 is going to be one for the books.
When seven days of festivities begin next Thursday (Sept. 10), the biggest change will be distance. The COVID-19 pandemic and Minnesota’s health guidelines mandate remodeling several highlights – the iconic parade, the Red River Run, the Rotary Ride – from mass gatherings to virtual events. Other familiar highlights, like Kids Fest and the Moorhead Airport Fly-in and Classic Car Show, will have to wait for 2021.
But the one you’ve been wondering about – the annual Medallion Hunt, with its challenging daily clues and substantial prizes – will again create a buzz.
“It will be very similar to previous years,” promises Trevor Magnuson, who joined the Parks and Recreation Department as activities coordinator 18 months ago. “The first clues will go out at 8 o’clock on Monday, Sept. 14, over Radio-FM.” That includes Bob 95 FM, 107.9-The Fox and Big 98.7. The clues will also be posted on the Parks & Rec website and Facebook page.
Hornbacher’s again is donating the top prize, $1,000 in grocery gift cards. Second prize is $500 in cash from MSUM. The third prize, also valued at $500, combines gifts from The Meadows and Village Green Golf Courses, the F-M CVB, River Keepers, Nature of the North, Scheels, Midco, Legends Sports Bar, Kraft Chiropractic, Junkyard Brewing, First International Bank and American Crystal Sugar.
Join ‘virtual parade’
What Moorheaders may miss most is the Greater Moorhead Days Parade. Long a big moment for boosting enthusiasm with a major display of civic pride, it has been derailed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It always draws a big crowd. That’s not a good situation for social distancing,” he observes.
Instead, residents and businesses are invited to take part in a virtual parade. Instead of one of Moorhead’s main drags, it will take place online. Families and businesses are invited to submit photos or brief videos (10 seconds or less), getting creative with their depiction of the theme “Moorhead Proud.” Their submissions will be edited into an all-city video production that will be available online.
Trevor says the planners are looking for footage of the same kinds of sights that you expect to see in a real-life parade, from fire trucks and the DARE car to bands, teams, business trucks and – of course – waving politicians, from the mayor and city council to political candidates. “If you have questions about how to get involved, give me a call at 218-299-5296,” he suggests. To submit your parade entry, email the digital file to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 11.
Fun in the face of COVID
The Parks Department has always worked with other community organizations whose events fall into the Greater Moorhead Days week. The Lake Agassiz Pacers’ Red River Run 5K or 15K, now in its 46th year, has been turned into a virtual competition. To register, go to solemotionrace.com/redriverrun.
Likewise, the FM Rotary Ride will encourage bicyclists to ride at their own pace and choose their own routes. Participants are asked to post photos and video of their independent rides on social media with the hashtag #fmrotaryride. Treats and prizes will be available at Riverfront Park downtown.
Area patriotic groups will stage a commemoration of 9/11 along with the police and fire departments at Memorial Park on the morning of that fateful day. On Saturday, Sept. 12, the new River Oaks Dog Park officially opens for canines and their human companions at 4 p.m.
A new addition to this year’s line-up is the Amazing Parkventure, scheduled for the last day of the celebration, Sept. 17. “It’s a spin-off of TV’s ‘The Amazing Race,’” Trevor explains. “Teams of four or so sign up to decipher clues that take them around a three-mile circuit of the parks. At each spot, members of our staff will be there to lead an activity or some kind of challenge. It could be anything from trivia to physical activities.” When the department tried it out in July, 15 teams totaling almost 50 members turned out to play.
The canoe and kayak rental season, which usually ends with Labor Day, has been extended to Saturday, Sept 12. Vessels can be rented for half off the usual fees between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. An advanced paddling adventure is planned for Sept. 16, when a guide from Nature of the North will teach several new techniques. To register, go to moorheadparks.acitivyreg.com.
Tuesday, Sept. 15, is Double PoP Day at the Moorhead Farmers Market in the lot at Ace Hardware on Main. Essentia Hospital has been supporting a program offering tokens to children ages 4-12 all summer, enabling them to shop for their favorite healthy homegrown produce. The value doubles during the festival. “About 100 kids have signed up over the summer,” Trevor reports, “and there’s still time to join the list.” (The markets continue through Sept. 29.)
“The pandemic has messed up a lot of things on the parks calendar,” he acknowledges. “From the Celtic Fest in March to the big community rummage sale we were planning in May, and on through River Arts and all the activities we’d scheduled at the pools, it’s been one cancellation after another.
“Greater Moorhead Days is one chance to get out, enjoy our city and some great fall weather, and have some fun.”