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Opinion: Enjoy! It’s water carnival time

Get ready to enjoy the Northwest Water Carnival, which starts Friday with the Miss Northwest Pageant and night golf and ends Sunday, July 21, with the Parade of the Northwest and the big waterski show.

In this era of terrorism, warfare, intrusive government and constantly changing technology, it’s nice to forget about everything and have some old-fashioned family fun — and the water carnival delivers that in spades.

The Detroit Lakes Jaycees have been sponsoring the annual Northwest Water Carnival since they organized as a chapter in 1935.

Now in its 77th year, the event is one of the longest running festivals in Minnesota.

It’s one of the premier summer events in the lakes area, and includes activities for everybody, from kiddie games to the beer garden.

The first Water Carnival was held in 1935. According to the Jaycees’ website, it took several years to become established, and was even cancelled in 1937.

But it has been held every year since then, and has grown to be as much as an 11-day affair with more than 60 events.

In its current format, it will be a 10-day event, with events every day, and two jam-packed weekends.

Hats off to the Detroit Lakes Jaycees for organizing the water carnival.

The Jaycees is an all-volunteer civic group. The water carnival is led by a new admiral, (or pair of admirals) each year, and the Jaycees work hard planning and coordinating the big event, which is supported by the business community.

After the grand parade, the Jaycees traditionally gather by the Pavilion to find out who will be the next admiral, who is selected by the Jaycee president. This year’s admiral duties are shared by Matt and Amy Boeke.

The Jaycees put a ton of work into the water carnival — find time to get out and enjoy it!

On Saturday, a runaway train hauling crude oil crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, setting off a fiery blast that killed at least 13 and left dozens more missing.

Until then, the locomotives seen pulling long lines of oil cars through all the towns in western Becker County, including Detroit Lakes, were just an interesting diversion.

Derailment concerns involved mostly environmental worries: How to contain the oil that might leak out of the derailed cars.

 Now people are wondering if a derailment means they have to run for their lives.

U.S. and Canadian regulators have warned for years that the type of rail tanker involved in a fatal explosion in Quebec is prone to rupturing during derailments, according to Bloomberg news.

Regulators say the railcars, known as DOT-111, rupture more often in derailments than other models.

While new tanker cars are built to tighter standards, those built before October 2011 — which make up more than two thirds of the national fleet — are all DOT-111.

And so far, U.S. regulators have declined to require retrofitting to make leaks and fires less likely.

That needs to change. As much as 675,000 barrels of oil a day now leaves North Dakota by rail: Public safety has to come first.