Aquatennial Parade on Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1949 Print

Aquatennial Parade on Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1949 Print

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Very nice image of the 1949 Aquatennial parade on Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Aquatennial was conceived as part of the long-running effort by political and business leaders to remake the image of the city, which had been battered by violent labor strife, municipal corruption and racial violence in the first decades of the twentieth century. The festival was part of the drive that took shape in the late 1930s to create a new “City of Lakes” from the ruins of the Mill City.

Aquatennial organizers claimed that they had slated their new celebration of the lakes for the third week of July because that was usually the hottest and driest week of the summer. But labor organizers always suspected that the glitzy new festival was intended to overshadow their commemorations of the Teamsters’ Victory in 1934, which were traditionally held this same week. This may have been the case, but the Minneapolis Park system had been convening festivals and pageants on their lakes and gardens since the early part of the twentieth century. Pageants that re-enacted historical events or featured children in animal costumes had been an important ritual of summer in the city for decades before the Aquatennial began.

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