The Fourth of July celebration on Lake Minnetonka is, in a word, spectacular. From dawn until dusk, the shoreline is filled with festivities—and, with the exception of the Firecracker Run in the morning, admission is absolutely free. So how does all this magic happen?
“You might argue that planning starts just days after the previous year’s event,” says Joe Schwartz, president of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce. After a debriefing meeting about what to keep and what to change, chamber members get ready to make it happen all over again. “The chamber sponsors the event, and included in that sponsorship is, of course, coordinating all the arrangements with suppliers, working with the cities and emergency response people. There’s just a lot of coordination.”
The chamber’s board of directors is already all-volunteer, but they bring in even more volunteers to help with the logistics. “There are a lot of people who put a lot of time into this event,” says Schwartz.
The funds come from a wide variety of sources. Chamber dues and local sponsors are crucial. Surprisingly, though, part of the celebrations help pay for themselves. “The Firecracker Run in the morning is a huge draw, and that’s also a big factor in helping pay for the day,” says Schwartz of the 1-mile fun run, 5K and 10K events.