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Water Carnival is right around the corner -- admiral ready for the big event

AARON LAUINGER is the admiral for this year's Northwest Water Carnival. He is in charge of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees' efforts to produce 10 days of fun.

When Aaron Lauinger was chosen as the admiral of the 2011 Northwest Water Carnival, he became the latest in a long line of Detroit Lakes Jaycees members to hold that post.

"Every year after the Parade of the Northwest, the Jaycees meet on the beach by the Pavilion and the current Jaycees president names next year's admiral," Lauinger said. "It's a tradition that's gone on for years and years and years.

"It's a very big honor," he added.

So what does being the admiral of the Northwest Water Carnival entail?

"Besides losing hair and not sleeping?" he joked, before adding a little more seriously, "The admiral just organizes and facilitates all 10 days worth of events -- it entails absolutely everything."

Not that organizing the water carnival is a solo effort, Lauinger added -- far from it.

"This is a great group of Jaycees who have supported me wholeheartedly," he said. "Our chapter has really come together to make this happen -- nowhere should it ever be said that this is an individual thing.

"It's really been a joint effort by all the Jaycees."

A Detroit Lakes native, Lauinger earned his bachelor's degree from North Dakota State University before going to work for Ulteig Engineering in Detroit Lakes in 2006.

It was right around that time that he joined the Jaycees, he added.

"This will be my fourth water carnival," Lauinger said. "The planning's been going very well -- it's a large amount of information to organize and facilitate, but the chapter really stands behind the admiral. They've done an outstanding job this year."

Though it seems as though there is never a shortage of things to do during the Northwest Water Carnival, this year's celebration truly is jam packed with events, Lauinger noted.

"It's significantly larger," he said. "We're still doing a lot of our traditional events, but we've added a lot.

"Every night or day (of the carnival) we have a main event."

The biggest event of all, of course, is the fact that the Jaycees have booked a national headliner to perform live during the Bash on the Beach on Saturday, July 16.

"The number one most exciting thing is that we've got Little Texas coming to play live on our beach, which is a huge deal," Lauinger said.

"It's a huge opportunity to attract visitors from not only this area, but around the region. People have bought tickets from Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and the Dakotas as well as Minnesota."

In fact, tickets for the Bash on the Beach can be purchased online this year, at the website, for $10 in advance.

Little Texas will perform at 9:30 p.m.; they will be preceded on the Pavilion Beach stage by local performers Emma Wood at 1 p.m., Tim Eggebraaten at 2:30 p.m. and Hardwood Groove at 3:30 p.m., before Bash on the Beach opening act Troubadour takes the stage at 7 p.m.

"We're hoping to get 3,000 people at the concert," Lauinger said.

Other new events include Family Day on Sunday, July 10; Sweet Summer Night on Monday, July 11; and the Dance on Detroit on Tuesday, July 12.

Family Day will include a morning worship service in the city park, hosted by Lakes Area Young Life, with lunch to follow; games for the kids and the Amazing Family Race, a competition featuring four-person family teams taking part in a series of challenges with the goal of winning a year's free membership at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center. A watermelon feed and a kids' concert by Tim Eggebraaten will finish out the day.

The Sweet Summer Night is a "girls' night out" event in downtown Detroit Lakes, where a series of well-lit white tents will be set out on a blocked-off section of Washington Avenue for a unique evening of shopping, wining and dining at a bistro-style pub, and more.

The Dance on Detroit is just like it sounds, an evening of dancing under the stars on the shores of Little Detroit Lake, featuring the "big band" sounds of local favorites Doc & the Scrubs.

"It's a post-war era celebration filled with the music of the 1930s, 40s and 50s," according to the description on the event flyer.

Following the traditional Friday night water fights in the City Park at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 15, the Neil Diamond tribute band Cherry Cherry will perform live for the Party in the Park celebration, which gets underway at 8:30 p.m.

"They're a tribute band from Seattle, Washington, and they're super excited to be here," Lauinger said. "It's going to be a great, all ages show."

In all, a total of 60 events are being planned during the 10-day celebration, which starts this Friday, July 8 with the Miss Northwest Pageant and concludes on Sunday, July 17 with the Parade of the Northwest -- one of the largest parades in Minnesota.

Parade registration can also be done online this year, at the Water Carnival website, where a complete schedule of all 60 events is also available.

A full line of Water Carnival t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, hats and drink cozies will be available for purchase at all water carnival events, and they can also be purchased at the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, La Barista and the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center through the end of the carnival.

"Supplies are limited, so be sure to get yours fast!" Lauinger said with a smile.

"This is all made possible by two things," Lauinger said.

"One, the support of local businesses, and two, the Jaycees, who are 50 members strong right now."

For all 76 years of the Northwest Water Carnival, the Detroit Lakes Jaycees have facilitate the entire 10 days worth of activities themselves -- entirely through volunteer efforts, Lauinger noted -- and they are always actively recruiting for the following year.

"We're looking for young people ages 21-40," he said.

Though planning for each water carnival involves about a year's worth of planning meetings, organization and preparation, the end result is always worth it.

"Clearly, we have a ton of fun, because we keep bringing it back every year," Lauinger said.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454