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Capital for a Day -- Thousands help DL celebrate

Surrounded by some dreary, windy, chilly weather, the sun decided to shine on Detroit Lakes Wednesday -- the perfect time for Capital for a Day festivities.

"It was really a fabulous day," organizer Amy Stearns said Friday after all the festivities had settled. "It was really a great opportunity to get a whole variety of people together to celebrate Detroit Lakes and showcase our community to the broader state."

The day kicked off with coffee and a visit from Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau and other dignitaries and representatives.

"I know one thing about Detroit Lakes -- the fishing here is as good as it's ever been," Molnau said.

She added that the Minnesotan spirit hasn't changed over the years, and the people here are not just Minnesota nice, but hardworking and generous. It's that spirit that brings everyone out for Capital for a Day celebration.

"Congratulations Detroit Lakes and happy birthday Minnesota," she said.

Mayor Larry Buboltz presented Molnau and Dan McIlroy, commissioner of DEED, with coasters made from the old Pavilion floor when it was torn out and refurbished.

"A community is only as good as its people. You have wonderful people here, Mayor," said Brenda Elmer, who was in town representing Sen. Norm Coleman.

Other morning activities included a rain garden ribbon cutting and a visit from former governor Al Quie, Minnesota Tourism Director John Edman and State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

"I'd like to congratulate this area. This area has so much to offer," Edman said of Detroit Lakes. "It takes a lot to make something like this happen."

Quie, who served as a congressman for 21 years and governor for four, admitted that as a kid, he didn't like history. His history teacher at the time took five minutes to explain the importance of history, and now he's ready to share it with others.

"It's important to know history to know where you're going in the future," he said.

Sharon Josephson also spoke on behalf of Rep. Collin Peterson. "Congratulations to the region and especially Detroit Lakes," she said.

That afternoon, citizens were welcome to environmental and other exhibits throughout the Pavilion, fresh food at the farmers market, a musical production, cake and coffee to celebrate Minnesota's 150th birthday and horse and wagon rides.

The afternoon came to a close, drawing a substantial crowd, with the dedication of the sailboat sculpture on the beach and a community picnic.

Buboltz said he is very proud of the growth of Detroit Lakes over the last few years and there is only more to come. And not only is the city growing its industrial base, tourism and events are thriving as well. During the summer there is something going on in Detroit Lakes each and every weekend.

"If people get bored in the city of Detroit Lakes, they should go see their doctor," he said, which drew laughs from the crowd.

Stearns said at least 1,000 people were served food at the community picnic, but throughout the day, there were over 2,000 people who came out to celebrate the different events.

"It was nice to get so many people involved, and really to have a lot of groups doing a lot of different activities was neat," she said.

Although there was no way to gauge how many people were from outside of Detroit Lakes, Stearns said she visited with several out-of-towners, so there were some that came simply to celebrate the city.

Buboltz described the day as a "tremendous success."

"From what I heard, guests from outside our community were very impressed," he said.

During the sailboat dedication time, Buboltz finished with and kicked-off the community picnic with a big thanks.

"Mostly, I'd like to say thank you to the people of Detroit Lakes who came out to celebrate," he said.

"Happy birthday Minnesota!"