Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Fourth of July

I celebrated our nation's birthday where I always have ever since I can remember: at the Sertoma fireworks show and downtown "celebration" (for lack of a better term). I can remember way back to the days when the fireworks were at Memorial Stadium. Then came a year or two in the Columbia Mall parking lot, many years at Lincoln Park, the riverbank downtown, a post-flood show at the Bronson Property (pre-Ralph), and a few years near Ulland Park before the festivities were moved to their (permanent?) home...The Greenway. In other words, for me Independence Day=Sertoma fireworks.

While I love the fireworks show and appreciate the events during the day, I can't help but thinking that the whole thing could be a little more "family friendly" than it currently is. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things for kids to do during the day and I know how they love the fireworks at night, but I would like to see the "atmosphere" of the event change a bit.

The First Night celebration each New Years Eve is an alcohol-free event. I've always thought that this is a great idea because it encourages people to do something other than drink on a night when drinking too much has become a tradition. Why should the Fourth of July be any different? Many people also celebrate this holiday by getting drunk. Why doesn't Sertoma (or whoever is in charge) make the decision to turn the Fourth of July into an alcohol-free celebration like First Night?

Grand Forks already has a bad reputation as being a town that likes to imbibe a bit too much now and then. I think that having alcohol so freely available at the Fourth of July celebration only makes that stigma worse for the city. I'm not so naive to think that if beer wasn't available downtown during the events that people simply wouldn't drink. No doubt that the party would just move to their homes. However, if the day's events were alcohol-free downtown, at least Sertoma and the city of Grand Forks wouldn't look like they were condoning turning our nation's birthday into another excuse to get drunk.


Anonymous said...

I didn't attend any of the events other than the fireworks (which were very nice, I thought). One thing that bothered me was a group of people who sat behind my two young children and me on the banks of the Red River. A couple of younger men in the group were letting swear words fly. I certain can swear a blue streak, but I was brought up knowing when its inappropriate (i.e. when at a large gathering that includes young children who might hear). I contemplated confronting the foul-mouthed buffoons but thankfully they shut up once the fireworks started. Plus my kids were wearing earplugs, so hopefully they didn't hear much.

So now I'm going to sound like someone much older than I am: "What is happening to civilized society?!?!?!"

Dave Miller said...

As from experience... I don't think too many in Grand Forks need an excuse to get drunk. Is the sun shining today? Did I put in a full day of work? Does today end in 'y'?

That's what it comes down to for many in good ol' GF.

As far as the being a civilized society... That doesn't rest on only the intoxicated ones. Many of the sober folk could use a bit of a refresher course in manners.

Anonymous said...

First Night is a joke. The bloated budget of the event is a travesity. Take a look at how much is spent. For what? Some Ole and Lena jokes? But, the real issue is, a Government Agency for a one night event? Really? Why? Most First Nights around the Nation have been desolved.

Look in the city directory. A listing for First Night? The private sector has always done a good job of providing events on this night. Now, the city is a competitor? Why? How would other industry feel about going up against their own municipality?

It's just wrong in principal.

Anonymous said...

Don't make this part of a right-wing harangue. It's common for towns of this size to underwrite community events that are too large for any one community organization to sponsor.

Anonymous said...

I'm the previous anon. I'm not a right winger, just taken 'em case by case. This one's a no-brainer in my mind. Good in principal, doesn't pan out in reality. Do you even know the budget?

Grand Forks is a town with serious issues. I'm sure you've heard the people feel taxes are too high, the public has become so apathetic about community leaders that less than 10% vote. C'mon, get your head out of the same ol' homer schtick. It ain't workin'.

Let me guess previous anon, you're one of the citizens that waived the flag about "The Alerus Center, blah. blah, blah, unique niche with attached convention center, blah, blah, blah, all local hotels packed, blah, blah, blah, people packed with buses, blah, blah, blah". There comes a point when you have to call B.S. Now it's "Attached hotel coming, blah, blah. blah...". You know the rest of the story. I don't mean to be so assertive but, at the end of the day, the community suffers, and you end up with well...less than 10% of citizens taking the time to even walk across the street and vote.

I know, I know, let's all join hands, drink kool-aid, gaze at the ice sculpturs, and sing cum-buy-ya. For what? Like about a 100 grand? No thanks. I'll go out, enjoy a nice meal, have like 2 drinks, and call it a night.

Get your head out the sand.

Anonymous said...

Bitter much?

Tu-Uyen said...

First Night is mostly corporate sponsored, if I recall correctly.

It also has no private sector competitor. These kinds of community events don't make money -- hence the sponsors.

Criticism is fair but you need facts.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that Grand Forks has relied so much on government participation for development and a "build it and they will come" mentality, that the community has lost sight of simple economics.

"Honey, the kids want to go to First Night". "Okay, cancel the reservations, oh and…we won't need that cab-service". "Got it, I'm not going shopping for that new outfit". "Let's skip havin' our friends over for apps and drinks before we go out". "Done, I'll also call the babysitter". "What about those plans that we had to meet up with those other friends for the count-down and party favors?” "Not happenin' this year...oh well". "Don't cork that wine, we'll have it some other time". "Remember last year? The kids kinda went down early and we left before the fireworks?” "Yeah, I fell asleep on the couch before ten and didn't even catch the east coast new years broadcast and ball drop". "Remember when we used to have so much fun at that ol' place with whats-thier-names and who was-it-again?” "Yeah, they moved, oh well, we've got the memories".

"Besides, there's virtually nothing to do in this community for us post-college fuddy-duddies anyway...I wonder why". "No problem, we'll grab dinner a few days after at Sanders". "Cool".

Or, may I add..."Cool?'

I think not.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else understand what anonymous just said?

lymegreen69 said...

As someone who has been involved with First Night GGF since 1998-PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT INSTEAD OF GUESSING!

the revenue for 12/31/05 approximately breaks down as
Admission 26%
Ad sales 10%
Misc income 2%
Gov grants 14%
Sponsors 48%

Note: the money received from the City of Grand Forks was $10,000 and has
decreased annually. This was given through the Special Events Grant Fund,
which many other events were also awarded cash.

When spending the dollars, over 50% goes to artist stipends and equipment
rental to meet their needs.

The Friends of First Night Greater Grand Forks is a stand alone 501 (c) 3
organization that exists strictly on revenues from this event. There is no
sugar daddy or safety net to catch us if we do not meet our budget

To address the question of the government competing with others: Do some research because many communities have specific departments within the city government that coordinate several large public events using sponsor dollars.

Want to learn more about First Night GGF? Visit our website at for more info or
better yet-attend our planning meetings every month. We meet the third
Thursday of every month.

Matthew K. Hartman said...

First off, where/when did GF get this reputation for being the Binge Drinking capital of the country? I've only lived up here close to two years, but I don't see any more people up here drinking any more than they did back home in Indiana... I'd like to see solid, concrete proof of where GFK gets this recognition. Secondly, what right do you have GFG, saying that everyone that walks up to a beer stand is there to get tanked off their ass? Myself, I may take the liberty to go out for a drink or two... But, that doesn't mean I'm there to get tanked and make everyone around me feel uncomfortable. People are responsible for their own actions. If you don't agree with them, either don't surround yourself by them, or speak up. This brings me to my next point... To the first post - what's happened to chivalry, huh? If you had that much of a problem with the kids behind you using the swear words, confront them in a responsible manner and ask them to tone down the blasphemy. Stand up for yourselves, folks. And finally... you honestly think that by allowing an alcoholic vender at a public event is "condoning" an excuse to get drunk? GFG, you need to realize that the general public makes that decision on their own - whether to drink or not. It's not an excuse to say, for example, that it's Nissan's fault that I took my car and drove it recklessly across I-29 to intimidate other drivers and/or put their lives at risk. It's the same principle... It's these incenuations and statements from the public that make GFK look bad. If you really believe GFK is that bad of a city and you continually look for ways to validate your ideas and consistently convey these ideals to the public, you're doing nothing but contributing to the negative feel for this city and it's leaders. It's sad...

Dave Miller said...

That has to be the best comment on the subject of binge drinking in GF I have ever seen. Bravo, Matt!

Semireg said...

Re: Why should the Fourth of July be any different?

Ahem, prohibition... ;P

lymegreen69 said...

I was a little surprised at the 4th of July celebration when I noticed people walking around with alcohol and even leaving a bar with alcohol out on to the street. Don't they usually require a beer garden? If I were Springfest I'd be upset that they went through a lot red tape and hoops, not to mention money, for a closed off beer garden only to find out that the 4th of July celebration allowed people to walk around with alcohol on the streets. Very Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's an interesting little bit of Grand Forks history.

For a long time the city required beer gardens at private, open to the public, off-premise special events but, DIDN'T at city FORXFEST. (Remember those good-ol' street parties?) Then the city eventually came 'round and made what I feel is the right decision...let legal adults roam with beverages. Afterall, let's not forget, alcohol is legal?

Liquor establishments still have to go before the city and get an off-premise permit for all of their special events that are not held on their specific licensed premesis.

Wasn't that the case at Springfest? The beer vendor got an off-premise permit and attendees, of age, were allowed to roam with a beverage.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the prior typos and grammar does learn to rely on software in this modern age!

(I'm the anon above)

lymegreen69 said...

Excuse me? The city hasn't gotten rid of the requirement for beer gardens. Yes, alcohol is legal, but only to adults over 21. A beer garden is intended to keep minors away from the alcohol.

Liquor establishments get an off sale license to have the right to sell their product off-premise, but not just on any street. Otherwise they would have beer stands downtown for people walking by. On off sale liquor permit allows a bar to sell alcohol in a controlled environment off premise. They still have to adhere to the current ordinances.

Anonymous said...

Let me respond to the above reply, um, ah,....wrong.

In fact, if a bar wanted to set up on the sidewalk out front of their establishment because of a civic event happening (all-school reunion, street-party, bungee jumping...there's one from the history books) they'd fill out the necessary paperwork, pay the off-premise fee, and if deemed required, they go sing their song before the council. Pretty simple deal. Alcohol isn't the demon. Trust me, no matter what your age, you can get whatever you want in this society. This is not a new thing. If you want alcohol, or drugs, they're out there.

Let me refresh your memory about events with alcohol and the ability to roam...
Grand Pasta Party
The outdoor Bluesfest about 4 years ago.

There's many more. It's just the way it is. It's no secret. In fact, in the past, the city has approved just what you referred to in your post...a downtown bar with a porta-bar set up out front on the sidewalk selling alcohol to those just walking by.

Responsble alcohol use...It's a good thing.
(Sorry Martha)

lymegreen69 said...

Try again. THe all school reunion had fenced off areas where alcohol was and wasn't allowed. I know because I worked with them as a liaison for the City on the issue. Grand Pasta Party had a fenced off beer garden.

You're semi correct. They CAN sell liquor outside their door IN A FENCED area. The most recent change is that the ordinance requiring a fenced area for alcohol is being "overlooked" by Council and law enforcement.

I don't care whether you can buy alcohol on the street or not, I'm saying there is an ordinance against it and officials are ignoring it yet I have to obey all the other ordinances in life. Doesn't make sense.

lymegreen69 said...

Try again. THe all school reunion had fenced off areas where alcohol was and wasn't allowed. I know because I worked with them as a liaison for the City on the issue. Grand Pasta Party had a fenced off beer garden.

You're semi correct. They CAN sell liquor outside their door IN A FENCED area. The most recent change is that the ordinance requiring a fenced area for alcohol is being "overlooked" by Council and law enforcement.

I don't care whether you can buy alcohol on the street or not, I'm saying there is an ordinance against it and officials are ignoring it yet I have to obey all the other ordinances in life. Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

I know the facts on this one. lymegreen69 is flat out wrong. The organizers of the all school reunion chose to set up their event that way. No big deal. Most of these "I don't understand liquor" types usually act on feelings instead of facts.

If a dude gets all liquored up and drives into a school, it's liquor's fault, right?

How do you account for FORXFEST, Grand Pasta Party, World's Smallest Bluesfest, etc.

I know...don't let facts get in the way of a good discussion.

Gotta run...I'm going to bubblewrap my child.

Liquor...bad. lymegreen...saint.

Got it.

Anonymous said...

21-0223. Consumption on public streets or alleys.
It shall be unlawful for any person to consume any alcoholic beverages, or to serve, sell, or possess an open container which contains alcoholic beverages, upon any public street, alley, highway or public sidewalk within the City of Grand Forks, except when such street or portion thereof is included within an area for which the city council has granted a license.

Anonymous said...

As stated in a prior thread, the ordinance above does not apply to the topic of disscussion. When a licensed liquor establishment acquires a special events permit, the attendees are not required to be contained in a "beer garden". The easy way to understand this is, not a misinformed opinion from a condescending "city official", not a non-applicable city ordinance, it's with one's own eyes and previous experiences. A simple look around at previous outdood events will reveal that this is the case. No big deal, no confusion.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind whether or not there is drinking at these "All City" events. The thing that I'd like to see is activities planned for teens and young adults. I was downtown for the first time in 10 years for the 4th Festivities and I brought my 18 year old niece and my 14 year old niece. They were bored out of there minds! While we were down there they commented on how much there really isn't for kids their age to do in this town and that's why their friends are into drinking at such a young age. I'd like to see GF bring something to this town for them to enjoy. There just isn't anything!