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A celebration of community: United Way event set for this Thursday at DL Pavilion

One of the past participants of the United Way Community Celebration has been the Lakes Area Imagination Library, which gave away free books donated by community residents and businesses. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)1 / 2
Doc & the Scrubs will once again be providing the musical entertainment at this year's United Way Community Celebration, which will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)2 / 2

For nearly a decade and a half now, the United Way of Becker County has been kicking off the fall season in Detroit Lakes with its annual Community Celebration.

"It's a celebration of this community — not just Detroit Lakes, but all of Becker County," says Luann Porter, the United Way's executive director. "It's such a generous community we have here... it's neighbors helping neighbors."

The 14th annual event is set to take place this Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

As in years past, all of the 33 organizations that receive funding from the United Way will have informational booths inside the Pavilion, and each of them will also have a door prize to sign up for that will be given away as the celebration starts to wind down.

"It's a way for everyone to see what the United Way, and all of its partner programs, provide to the citizens of Becker County," said Porter. "But it's also a way to celebrate who we are — and by 'we,' I mean all of us who live here, throughout Becker County."

Besides the door prizes, there will also be 15 bicycles given away at the end of the evening.

"The bikes were all donated to us," said Porter. "They're brand new bikes, with helmets. Everyone attending the celebration will be given a ticket, which they can then drop into the bucket in front of whatever bike they want to take home."

New to the celebration this year will be a display of "Everyday Hero" emergency response vehicles, including squad cars from the Becker County Sheriff's Department, Detroit Lakes Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol as well as a Detroit Lakes fire truck, ambulance and other emergency response vehicles.

"They will be interactive," said Porter. "You can get inside, touch, feel and look at everything, and learn what they're all about, how they work."

Of course, there will be the traditional activities, such as the free picnic supper of sloppy joes, chips, cookies and beverages, not to mention inflatable games in the city park adjacent to the Pavilion. There will also be face painting, and balloon creations from Kristin Blom, which were such a big hit last year that she was invited back for the 2018 celebration as well.

"And we'll have music from Doc & the Scrubs inside the Pavilion," Porter added.

Best of all, the activities are all offered free of charge, as a gift to the community. For more information about the United Way and its programs, or how to get involved, please call 218-846-7400 or​ 218-847-0727, send an email to or visit the website at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454