Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 3, 2000

Miss Winsted is Aquatennial-bound

Sarah Behrens, daughter of Dave and Mary Behrens will soon be enjoying "The 10 Best Days of Summer" as she participates in the Minneapolis Aquatennial competing for the title of "Queen of the Lakes" July 14-23.

Sarah's ticket to the event was presented to her when she was crowned Miss Winsted 1998-99 during the Legion Festival. Ambassador queens like herself from surrounding communities throughout the area will also be attending.

"As one of 49 young women who will compete for Queen of the Lakes, I am very excited about the Minneapolis Aquatennial. I will be participating in many events, as well as the Grande Day and Torchlight Parades. One of the things I am most looking forward to is the chance to develop new friendships and deepen existing ones with the other candidates I came to know during my year as Winsted's ambassador queen. Some of the queens and royalty members will be lifelong friends," said Sarah.

The Aquatennial provides an identity for Minneapolis ­ a sense of geographical unity. Since its inception 60 years ago the Aquatennial has united the people of Minneapolis to celebrate the city's lakes, rivers, parks, and neighborhoods during Minnesota's best season. But more importantly, the 10-day festival mirrors the history, music, sports, arts and technological development of Minnesota and the rest of the country.

On May 24, 1939, a group of Twin cities business leaders conceived the idea of the Minneapolis Aquatennial while attending a parade for the visiting King of England in Winnipeg. They were inspired by the fact that thousands of people would attend a parade on a rainy day to see a king. Thus, they decided to stage their own celebration, create their own royalty, and celebrate summer in Minneapolis.

The whole city came together in 1940 and made the first Aquatennial a tremendous success. The entire Minneapolis police department worked 12 hours each day of the festival. Ninety-two year old Chief One Bull, last of the great Sioux warriors and famous for his defeat of General Custer, attended the first festivities.

Other celebrities and famous people who have attended and participated during the years are: Gene Autry, Richard Nixon, The Lone Ranger, Bob Barker, who hosted a live broadcast of his TV game show from Southdale Shopping mall; Miss America, Phyllis George; and many more.

The Aquatennial is attended by nearly 800,000 people throughout the 10-day festival period. When it first began, there were nearly 200 events. Today festival organizers have scaled that number back to about 40 events. The goal is to make each event absolutely spectacular.

Aside from the parades, some of the other events which Sarah and the other candidates will be attending are milk carton boat races, visiting veterans at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis, Aqua Night at the Twins game, a community luncheons, concerts, dinners, parties, and other events too numerous to mention.

The candidates are sequestered from family and friends. Aquatennial personnel closely chaperoned the candidates at all times and keep the girls on the go from morning through the evening. Judges are present much of the time although the girls may not be aware of them.

There are four scheduled interviews with the judges. The Queen Of the Lakes coronation culminates the week. It takes place Saturday, July 22, in the University of Minnesota's Tedd Mann Hall. At that time, the queen and two Aquatennial princesses will be announced. Miss Congeniality, for whom the candidates votes, does not make public appearances.

Pageantry is a key element of the Aquatennial, one of the concepts on which the festival is based. The coronation event is indicative of that. Following the coronation, a reception is held and then the new royalty and other candidates are escorted to Boom Island to watch the Dayton's Fireworks ­ the fourth largest fireworks show in the nation.

Many communities have created their own celebrations including events, parades, and royalty coronations similar to the idea of the Aquatennial event. Emphasis is on the spirit of volunteerism which is the glue that pulls all of these events together There are over 500 volunteers helping to stage all the Aqua events each summer.

Representatives from the Aquatennial organization and Aquatennial royalty attend community celebrations throughout Minnesota each summer ­ riding in parades, attending luncheons, judging local royalty competitions, and presenting the "Commodore Award" to a selected individual in each community for their volunteerism.

The Aquatennial Royalty serves as ambassadors to other state, regional, national and international festivals and civic events for the city of Minneapolis.

On a final note, Sarah said, "I am so excited to represent Winsted as an ambassador one more time. It was a privilege to be Miss Winsted and Miss Congeniality for one year.

"I will cherish the memories and friendships always. I am very grateful to everyone in the community of Winsted who have given me so much support and encouragement, as well as financial support. I will do my best to represent you, my community family, to the best of my ability. If you have any questions call my home at 320-485-2419."

Anyone who wants to send well wishes to Sarah during Aquatennial may do so. She and the other candidates will be staying at the Radisson Metrodome Hotel, 615 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455.

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