Stillwater fireworks show, Lumberjack Days to make a comeback after two-year hiatus

Some of Minnesota's most popular summer events in the St. Croix valley will be back next month after a two-year hiatus.

In Stillwater, the past two summers just haven't been the same without the July Fourth fireworks show.

"Stillwater's been known to have the biggest shells in the state of Minnesota. A lot of places are shooting 3- to 6-inch shells. We're shooting up to 12-inch shells here," said Mike Polehna, vice mayor and council member in Stillwater.

Two years ago, COVID-19 prevented those fireworks from filling the sky above the St. Croix River. Last year, city leaders called all over the country, but supply chain issues meant they couldn't find fireworks.

So this year will be a comeback for the 20,000 to 25,000 people who pack the waterfront. They can expect fireworks choreographed to music and a community sing-a-long.

"We're bringing this back to the way it always was out here," Polehna said. "Our citizens just love coming down and interacting, picnicking, enjoying the waterfront, doing a lot of different social things. And it's nice to get everybody back out and get the community back together."

The following week marks the resurgence of "Lumberjack Days," another Stillwater staple.

"This is one of the oldest events in Minnesota, so we definitely want to continue the tradition," said organizer Paul Creager. "It's kind of restarting a cold engine after two years."

"Lumberjack Days" has a full events schedule, and a large focus will be on local music with a one-of-a-kind line-up.

"In the past, we've worked with Minnesota acts, but this year the bulk of the performers are literally from the St. Croix Valley – Stillwater, Hudson, St. Croix Falls," Creager said.

Organizers promise even more energy this year for the 35,000 people who will pack Lowell Park over the course of three days, July 15, 16, and 17.

"It's great to be able to bring people together after such a tumultuous couple of years," said organizer Sam Ziemer.

Lumberjack Days is run by a non-profit and this has been a rebuilding year for organizers, so they are still looking for sponsorships.

Increase in personal fireworks injuries

For many Americans, the 4th of July means friends, family, and fireworks. But the number of fireworks injuries in the U. S. is soaring as high as some of the dazzling displays in the sky.

A new report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission says the number of injuries from fireworks went up 25 percent between 2006 and 2021.

Last year alone, 9 people died and 11,500 were injured in fireworks-related incidents.

"Traditionally the Fourth of July is the busiest day for the American Fire service", said Richfield firefighter Leon Chambers.

Fire officials say the safest way to see fireworks is to leave them to the professionals.

If you are going to use them, make sure they're legal in Minnesota, that means nothing that flies or explodes.

Sparklers may seem like a safe choice, especially for children, but they burn at about 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to burn some metals and makeup about a quarter of all fireworks related visits to the emergency room.

"Sparklers are very flashy. Kids tend to gravitate towards them. They can be impulsive and grab them,"  said Chambers.

Fire officials also say never use fireworks when you are intoxicated or under the influence, have a bucket or hose nearby in case of a fire, and don't light them near people or anything flammable like houses.

That way you can make sure your holiday is a safe one.

"The 4th of July is an incredible holiday. We all like to have fun and hang our grill and spend time with our loved ones. We don't want to ruin that day by ending up in the emergency room or causing a fire which could be a great catastrophe," said Chambers.