Legendary Female Athletes to serve as CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade Grand Marshals 

CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade to celebrate 50th Anniversary of Title IX with 6 Grand Marshal honorees

The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade will kick off Aquatennial on Wednesday, July 20 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Dozens of festive floats, colorful displays, and marching bands showcasing groups from all over Minnesota will proceed down Nicollet Mall from 12th Street to 4th Street. This event is free and open to people of all ages.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the Aquatennial is honored to host six phenomenal female athletes as Parade Grand Marshals. 

  • Peg Brenden -In the early ‘70s, Brenden wasn’t shy about raising a racket with the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota for the right to play high school tennis. She became one of the first girls in Minnesota to earn a high school varsity letter.
  • Tasha Feigh – Feigh was a longtime athlete in the Osseo Dist. 279 adapted sports program and winner of five medals in gymnastics at the 2018 Special Olympic USA Games.
  • Lisa Lissimore – Lissimore is a 2009 inductee into the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and recent retiree from the Minnesota State High School League after 34 years of service. 
  • Fartun Osman – Osman is founder/CEO of Girls Rock, an all-girls club that promotes sport for Somali and Muslim girls. She was recently honored by the NCAA with the 2022 Legacy Award for her local activism in the Minneapolis area. Osman was head coach for the Somali Women’s National Basketball team where she was also a player. 
  • Jessie Stomski Seim – Currently General Counsel at Prairie Island Indian Community, Stomski Seim played professional basketball for the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting and played in France and Greece. 
  • Lindsay Whalen – Whalen has won world titles, two Olympic gold medals with the United States women’s national basketball team, as well as four WNBA championships with the Minnesota Lynx. She has served at the University of Minnesota’s Women’s Basketball Head Coach since 2018. She was recently inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

This is CenterPoint Energy’s 22nd year sponsoring the Torchlight Parade. The public is welcome to bring blankets or folding chairs, find a spot along Nicollet, and enjoy the show.

“Everyone loves a parade, and the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is a great opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy a fun summer celebration in downtown Minneapolis,” said Christe Singleton, CenterPoint Energy’s Vice President of Minnesota Gas. “As a company committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re excited that this year’s parade will feature outstanding Minnesota women athletes as Grand Marshals to honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX. We invite everyone to join the parade at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20.”  

“The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade is an annual favorite and a terrific way to kick off the Aquatennial festivities,” said Leah Wong, vice president of external relations for the mpls downtown council. “We are thrilled to continue the celebration of Title IX’s 50th anniversary as we welcome thousands to Downtown Minneapolis to enjoy incredible parade units and great entertainment.”

The emcees for the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade are K102’s Chris Carr and Company featuring Chris Carr, Kia and McKaila. You can check out their play-by-play near Peavey Plaza at 11th and Nicollet.

Learn more about this year’s CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade here: https://www.aquatennial.com/torchlightparade/

Aquatennial, the Official Civic Celebration of the City of Minneapolis, sets sail July 20 through July 23, 2022. A full schedule of Aquatennial events can be found at https://www.aquatennial.com/events/.

2022 Aquatennial sets sail July 20-23

2022 Aquatennial sets sail July 20-23

On this first day of summer, the organizers of the Aquatennial are delighted to announce the 2022 lineup of events. The 83rd Aquatennial, the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis, will set sail Wednesday, July 20 through Saturday, July 23, 2022. All events are free, family-friendly, and open for all to enjoy.

The Aquatennial Target Fireworks take place Saturday, July 23 at 10 pm. Enjoy the Pre-Fireworks Festivities leading up to the fireworks throughout the evening, including AquaJam from 4-7 pm, the City of Lakes Market and Mpls Craft Market from 5-10 pm, and live music from 6-10 pm.

The bookends of this year’s schedule are our longtime signature events:

  • CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade on Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Along Nicollet from 12th to 4th Street

Annually the largest nighttime event in Minnesota, the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade will fill downtown Minneapolis with great floats, displays and marching bands through the heart of downtown.

  • Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 23 at 10 p.m.

Along the banks of the Mississippi on West River Road near the Stone Arch Bridge

The Target Fireworks, produced by the world-famous Zambelli Fireworks team, are considered one of the top five annual fireworks shows in the entire country.

Come early for Aquatennial Pre-Fireworks Festivities on West River Parkway near the Stone Arch Bridge beginning at 6 p.m.

“The Aquatennial schedule has something for everyone here in downtown Minneapolis,” said Leah Wong, vice president of external relations, mpls downtown council. “Our City’s Official Civic Celebration, Aquatennial, is a beloved summer tradition. It brings us together for fun unforgettable moments. Whether you join us for the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, the Target Fireworks, or all of our two dozen events, we look forward to seeing you downtown and having you take part in all the collective urban experiences that make our city special.”

Most of the events take place in the heart of the City of Lakes in downtown – from Peavey Plaza and The Commons and along Nicollet and West River Road. The schedule and the proximity of the activities make Aquatennial a walkable and bikeable experience throughout the four days.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2022 Minneapolis Aquatennial*. A full schedule of events can be found at aquatennial.com/events. Check back for updates leading up to Aquatennial.

2022 Aquatennial


  • Aquatennial Blood Drive with the American Red Cross – Peavey Plaza, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Go Outside with Hennepin County lawn games, Government Center South Plaza, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade – Nicollet from 12th to 4th Streets, 7:30 p.m.
  • Movies in the Park: “Black Panther” – The Commons (425 Portland Ave. So), at 9:15 p.m.


  • Aquatennial Blood Drive with the American Red Cross – Peavey Plaza, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Downtown Thursdays: Nicollet Market, music, performance and more –

Nicollet between 6th to 8th, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

  • Go Outside with Hennepin County lawn games, Government Center South Plaza,

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

  • Music in the Park: JoJo Green – The Commons, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Learn to Roller Skate at Aquatennial – The Commons, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Outdoor Movie Night, Go Outside with Hennepin County: “Aquaman” –

Target Field Station, 7 p.m.

  • Twin Cities River Rats Waterski Show – West River Road on Mississippi River between Broadway and Plymouth Avenues, 7 p.m.


  • Aquatennial Blood Drive with the American Red Cross – Peavey Plaza, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Alchemy 365 outdoor fitness class at Aquatennial, Mpls Sculpture Garden, 5:30 p.m.
  • Twin Cities River Rats Waterski Show – West River Road on Mississippi River between

Broadway and Plymouth Avenues, 7 p.m.


  • Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam Open House – St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam,

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Twin Cities Carifest – West River Road between Plymouth and Broadway Ave, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Salsa Cookoff – Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake Street), 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
  • AquaJam Skateboarding – Water Works, West River Parkway near Portland Avenue 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • City of Lakes Market – West River Parkway near Guthrie Theater, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Mpls Craft Market – West River Parkway near Guthrie Theater, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Pre-Fireworks Festivities – live music – West River Parkway near Stone Arch Bridge,

6 pm. – 10 p.m.

  • Target Fireworks – West River Parkway near Stone Arch Bridge, 10 p.m.

More information is available at aquatennial.com and follow along @Aquatennial on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for up-to-the-minute details.

Volunteers Needed

The Aquatennial relies on dozens of volunteers to help make the festival a success. Sign up online to be part of the Aquatennial Volunteer Program and assist with such events as the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and Target Fireworks. Perks include access to the partner viewing area at the Fireworks, a t-shirt, and other benefits. aquatennial.com/volunteer/

2021 Aquatennial sets sail July 21-24

Aquatennial, the Official Civic Celebration of the City of Minneapolis, is getting ready to set sail with two dozen events taking place from Wednesday, July 21 through Saturday, July 24. This year’s schedule of events is filled with traditional Aquatennial favorites and an array of new activities with the majority located in and around downtown Minneapolis. All events are free and open to the public.

“We are excited to welcome everyone to Aquatennial this summer, as we are leading the way back to enjoying collective urban experiences together,” said Leah Wong, vice president of external relations, mpls downtown council. “Whether it is the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, Target Fireworks—a top 5 annual display in the country, group fitness activities, shopping local makers, a Twin Cities River Rats show or listening to live music, we know there is something you and yours will love. We can’t wait to see you downtown.”

From the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to Peavey Plaza, Midtown Global Market to the Mississippi Riverfront, Nicollet to Mill Ruins Park, the 82nd Aquatennial will provide fun opportunities for all ages including its flagship events the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and Target Fireworks.

“Aquatennial is our Official Civic Celebration and a summer staple here in Minneapolis, and we are thrilled to return to celebrate together this year,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “From our world-class culinary scene to views along the river and so much more, we invite you to enjoy everything our city has to offer. Whether you make every Aquatennial or this is your first time joining, there’s always something new to try downtown, and we can’t wait to welcome you for this year’s events.”

The schedule and the proximity of the activities make Aquatennial a walkable and bikeable experience throughout the four days as many of the festivities take place throughout downtown and at or near the riverfront, the birthplace of our city.

“Aquatennial is an annual tradition in Minneapolis, a time that offers fun ways to gather and enjoy outdoor spaces together,” said Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Superintendent Al Bangoura. “We enjoy having Aquatennial events in our park system each year, and we’re excited to welcome everyone back to enjoy their favorite events again this July. Events will take you along the Mississippi Riverfront to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and there is something for everyone at Aquatennial while enjoying some of our city’s beautiful outdoor spaces.”

Here are some of the highlights of the 2021 Minneapolis Aquatennial*. A full schedule of events can be found at aquatennial.com/events.

Flagship Events

CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade
Wednesday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Nicollet between 12th Street and 4th Street

The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade will illuminate downtown Minneapolis along Nicollet with parade units, floats, displays, and marching bands through the heart of downtown. The parade will begin at 12th Street and run to 4th Street.

Target Fireworks
Saturday, July 24 at 10 p.m.
West River Parkway near Portland Avenue

The Target Fireworks are considered one of the Top 5 annual fireworks displays in the country. Come early for Aquatennial Pre-Fireworks Festivities along the riverfront on West River Parkway near the Stone Arch Bridge beginning at 6 p.m. Live musical entertainment will include the Command Steppers, Dred I Dread, and Annie Mack. The world-famous Zambelli Fireworks team spends approximately two to four hours per each minute of the display to ensure that the display and music are perfectly synced.  

The 2021 Minneapolis Aquatennial schedule is as follows*:  

Wednesday, July 21

Aquatennial Blood Drive at Peavey Plaza, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Lunchtime Lawn Games at Peavey Plaza, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Pianos on Parade Performance at Peavey Plaza, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, Nicollet between 12th Street and 4th Street, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 22

Downtown Thursdays along Nicollet and throughout downtown, all day

Nicollet Farmers Market & Makers Market – Nicollet between 6th and 8th Streets, 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Aquatennial Blood Drive at Peavey Plaza, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Lunchtime Lawn Games at Peavey Plaza, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Jam at Peavey Plaza, MNSpin live music performance featuring Twins of Franklin, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Pianos on Parade Performance Presented by PNC Bank featuring James “Cornbread” Harris at Peavey Plaza, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Concert at the Commons featuring Jessica Vines (425 Portland Ave. So.), 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Aquatennial Workout Party with YWCA of Minneapolis at Peavey Plaza, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Twin Cities River Rats Aquatennial Water Ski Show on the Mississippi River (West River Road between Plymouth and Broadway bridges), 7 p.m.

Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels at Target Field, 7:10 p.m.

Friday, July 23

The Alley Project at Mixed Precipitation (between FAIR School & The Chambers Hotel), 4:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.

Alchemy 365 at Aquatennial at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (726 Vineland Pl), 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Twin Cities River Rats Aquatennial Water Ski Show on the Mississippi River (West River Road between Plymouth and Broadway bridges), 7 p.m.

Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels at Target Field, 7:10 p.m.

Saturday, July 24

Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam Open House (1 Portland Ave), 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Twin Cities Carifest on (West River Road between Plymouth and Broadway), 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Jonny Pops Pop In – Ice Cream Social at Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St), 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

City of Lakes Market (in partnership with The Black Market) at the Chicago Mall on West River Parkway between Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Pre-Fireworks Festivities — live music at West River Parkway near Portland Ave., 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Minnesota Twins vs. Los Angeles Angels at Target Field, 6:10 p.m.

Target Fireworks, West River Parkway near Portland Ave., 10 p.m.

Carifest recipes

Carifest Recipes

The Carifest organizers shared some of their favorite recipes with Aquatennial. Check out some of these incredible dishes and offerings as you celebrate the 2020 Aquatennial.

Jerk Chicken


1 whole chicken, separated into pieces

2 Scotch bonnet peppers, seeds removed

1 tablespoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

4 cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoon thyme, dried

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

½ cup scallions, chopped

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 lemon, sliced into 4-6 pieces


Set chicken aside

Using food processor, blend remaining ingredients into a paste (except for lemon slices)

Rub all over chicken

Grill chicken over medium or medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until thoroughly cooked

Serve with lemon slices

Jamaican Dumplings


4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoons butter

½ cup cold water

Olive oil, vegetable oil, or grape-seed oil for frying, enough to fill skillet halfway


Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir butter until flour mixture is in crumbles no longer than peas.

Mix in water 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the mixture is wet enough to form into a ball. The dough should have a firm consistency. Knead briefly and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Break off pieces of dough and shape into patties—similar to flat biscuits.

Place just enough of the dumplings in the pan so they are not crowded.

Fry on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from pan and drain on paper towels before serving.



1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup onions, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

½ cup freshly chopped tomato

¾ cup fresh spinach, torn into large pieces

3 whole eggs, plus 2 egg whites (or egg substitution of your choosing)

¼ cup whole milk

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup finely chopped basil leaves

½ cup feta cheese

Apple Cider Dressing

Apple cider vinegar, like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional: add minced garlic and shallots

or Simple Lemon Dressing

1 lemon, juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of red pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In cast-iron skillet, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil or coconut oil until onion is soft

Add tomatoes and spinach, allowing spinach to wilt

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, milk, salt and pepper together

After whisking, add egg mixture and chopped basil to the pan

Sprinkle with feta cheese

When edges of frittata start to firm against pan, remove from stovetop and plan in oven until fully cooked, about 10 minutes

Serve with side salad and apple cider vinaigrette or simple lemon dressings

For apple cider and simple lemon salad dressings, mix all ingredients and whisk until combined. From cider dressing, desired yield is 1 part vinegar and 2 parts olive oil

Optional: you can also make individual servings in ramekins.

Brown Rice and Salmon Bowl


1 salmon fillet (1 pound)

1 head cauliflower, florets quartered, cut into bite-size pieces

1 whole leek (discard outer layer, then clean and slice)

Olive oil for drizzling, plus 1 tablespoon for sautéing

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cumin, to taste

1 bunch beet greens, julienned, stems removed

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 cups cooked brown rice

½ avocado


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Spread cauliflower and leeks on roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin

Roast for 40 minutes, loosening cauliflower with wooden spoon halfway through to prevent sticking

Salt salmon, divide into 3 pieces, set aside

Saute beet greens in olive oil, add minced garlic

Cook salmon in a frying pan with coconut oil until pink in the middle

Scoop cooked brown rice into bowl, cover with roasted cauliflower and leeks

Place salmon and beet greens on top

Open avocado and slice lengthwise into pieces for garnish

Caribbean Salsa


1 cup fresh, firm mango, diced

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Optional: 1 cup fresh, firm papaya, diced

¼ cup fresh jalapeno, minced and seasoned, or to taste

¼ cup red onion, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ tablespoon salt, kosher or sea

1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

1 cup firm Roma tomatoes, diced and seeded

¼ cup cucumber, diced and seeded



Combine all ingredients in a bowl and generously sprinkle hempseed before serving

Enjoy with chips and fresh green salad

Pineapple Lemongrass Cooler


½ ripe pineapple

2 bananas

½ cup (120ml) water

Three 4-inch (10cm) pieces of lemongrass

Simple Syrup

¼ cup (60ml) vodka, optional


Place the pineapple, bananas. Water, and lemongrass in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Strain through cheesecloth. Taste and add simple syrup, if necessary. Stir in the optional vodka. Serve on the rocks.

Creole Sauce


¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (85g) vegan margarine

6 tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon mild paprika

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

2 cups (480ml) water

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 ½ to 2 teaspoons pink or sea salt, or to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons Bajan Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon commercial pepper sauce with ½ teaspoon American-style mustard

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley


Heat the margarine in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the tomatoes and onions and sauté until the tomatoes begin to release their juice and the onions start to become translucent

Add the garlic, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 3 minutes

Sirin the pepper, paprika, and curry powder, then sir in the water and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the onion powder, salt, pepper sauce, and parsley. Serve hot.

Plantain Balls


1 overripe plantain

2 tablespoons chopped Holiday “Ham”

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup (30g) medium breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

1 tablespoon wheat germ

¼ teaspoon pink or sea salt

Large pinch of mild paprika


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and grease a baking sheet.

Mash the plantain. Sir in the vegan ham, cinnamon, and cayenne. Separately, combine the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, wheat germ, salt, and paprika and mix well. Put the bread crumb mixture on a plate.

Roll the plantain mixture into walnut-sized balls using a heaping teaspoon to portion out the mixture. Roll them in the breading to coat evenly, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, turning once during the cooking process.

Curry Sauce


2 tablespoons vegan margarine

½ onion, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons mince celery

1 small bay leaf

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

1 tablespoon fine cornmeal or corn flour

1/3 cup (80 ml) water

½ teaspoon pink or sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice


Heat the margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bay leaf, turn the heat down to medium-low, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add the curry powder, cornmeal, and water and whisk briskly. Stir in the salt and ginger, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

Canoe Derby connected MN communities during early Aquatennial years

Canoe Derby connected MN communities during early Aquatennial years

The Mississippi River weaves its way from Bemidji to Minneapolis, covering 450 miles and connecting countless towns along the way. For a little more than two decades, it was also a celebrated path to Aquatennial that essentially kicked off and kept afloat the Best Days of Summer.

From 1940 through the early 1960s—with a few years missed in between—the Aquatennial Canoe Derby brought teams together to compete for prize money and Aquatennial bragging rights as they navigated the Mighty Mississippi with canoes below and paddles in hand.

Today, canoeing continues to be a part of typical Aquatennial celebrations. Wilderness Inquiry offers voyageur canoe rides in Loring Park and on the Mississippi River during typical Aquatennial years, and this year they are offering virtual video experiences highlighting Minneapolis canoe routes.

In Aquatennial’s early years, the Aquatennial Canoe Derby took on different lengths over the years, with the longest version stretching from Bemidji to Minneapolis and including 10 checkpoint stops at various Minnesota towns—many of which hosted celebrations for the canoers upon arrival.

After legs of the race that typically took 8-10 hours to complete, competitors embraced and welcomed the festivities.

“There would be overnight stops, and communities would put on a festival when they were there,” Hennepin History Museum’s Aquatennial Collection Volunteer Archivist Ken Hafften said. “They would stay overnight in church basements. Then the community would host whatever events they might have. Community goers really got involved.”

(Article continues below photo gallery. Photos of past Aquatennial Canoe Derbies are courtesy of Hennepin History Museum)

The first canoe race in 1940 had two installments—the main race that went from Bemidji to the Camden Bridge in Minneapolis, and then a sprint race from the Camden Bridge to the Franklin Bridge with a portage at St. Anthony Falls.

Over the years, variations of the race featured routes beginning at St. Cloud and Anoka before ending in Minneapolis.

Prizes ranged from $1,200 in 1940 to $13,000 for the winners in 1951. Participating teams varied from two dozen teams to as many as 50 in 1949.

That 1949 race featured the first female entrant in the derby, and it also was one of four races won by Gene Jensen and Tom Estes—a four-time championship duo that won in 1948, ’49, ’50 and ’60.

Entrants’ standard minimum age was 17 years old, and Hafften said most participating teams were from Minnesota. In its later years, Explorer Scouts made up the field of competitors.

The serene yet grueling path sometimes featured as many as 87 miles covered in a single day. While the Aquatennial Canoe Derby’s last race took place in the early 1960s, it was a big part of Aquatennial’s schedule in its early years.

To view more past and present Aquatennial content, visit www.aquatennial.com/aqua2020.

Announcement by the Mpls Aquatennial

Announcement by the Mpls Aquatennial

July 2, 2020

It is Aquatennial time, and we will miss seeing you in person this year. Our community continues to navigate the realities of COVID-19 and its impacts on public health. We will always prioritize community safety over celebrations. More importantly, Minneapolis is still reeling from the death of George Floyd. Our community has been deeply impacted by his tragic death and the unrest that followed. Simply said, it does not feel like it is time to celebrate. We want to take the time to honor our community and give space for the important work that needs to be done.

As our community begins to heal, we are encouraged by neighbors helping neighbors and the hope and spirit of Minneapolis at work. We are optimistic we will be in a better place to celebrate next year.

We invite you to follow along on social media July 22-25, as we share Aquatennial activities, content, and memories.

And, please mark your calendars for next year, when we look forward to celebrating Aquatennial, including the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and Target Fireworks, July 21–24, 2021.

Click here to view 2020 Aquatennial activities and content.

2019 Aquatennial Blog | Wednesday, July 24

We’re only one day into the 2019 Minneapolis Aquatennial and the 80th celebration is already one to remember.  We got the Aquatennial action kicked off at the IDS Center with the Aquatennial Blood Drive from 9am-3pm.  We’ve already received a substantial amount of donations, with 33 people already donating both their time and their blood to the Red Cross.

Also helping kick off Aquatennial was the Go Outside with Hennepin County South Plaza Activities. While this event runs weekly throughout the summer, this week drew the biggest crowds the Plaza has seen this summer. Joining us at the South Plaza was an Alchemy 365 booth, Midwest Animal Rescue Shelter with four adorable puppies, Underdog Rescue with 6 pups that everyone loved, and Ronald McDonald House with lawn games for all to enjoy.

As the sun went down, the events started to pick up. The evening events were kicked off with the JB Hudson Aquatennial Tailgate Party. This 21+ event showcased demonstrations and thematic drinks that were inspired by JB Hudson’s 130+ year history of being in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Armed with a drink and snack in their hand, attendees were encouraged to browse the aisles and get in the Aquatennial spirit.

Just down the street from JB Hudson, the Minnesota Twins were battling it out against the New York Yankees. Attendees were excited to be in downtown Minneapolis to cheer on the Twins and experience the city during it  official civic celebration!  

Families were then invited to Loring Park for the Pre-Parade Family Fun Night. Attendees of all ages took part in Wilderness Inquiry Canoe Rides, USTA Northern tennis, pony rides, face painting, and many more activities. The Family Fun Night brought in hundreds of people to downtown Minneapolis for family friendly fun before the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade.

The LifeTime Torchlight 5K then started at 7:30pm with thousands of runners making their way through the new route that showcased the skyline and the Mississippi Riverfront.  The streets of downtown Minneapolis were flooded with competitive and recreational runners ranging from children to elderly, and everything in between. 

As the runners crossed the finish line at Boom Island, they were greeted with beverages, music, activities, and more at the LifeTime Torchlight 5K After Party. The After Party was open to the public this year, so those cheering the 5K runners on along the route were able to celebrate their finish with them! As the sun set over the Minneapolis skyline, atteendees were able to celebrate the beginning of the 80th Aquatennial.

The Grand Finale of an outstanding first day of events was the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. Minnesota’s largest nighttime parade brought in thousands of people from all over Minnesota to downtown Minneapolis. With over 90 floats making their way down the parade route while interacting with the crowd, dancing, and marching, parade-goers witnessed the perfect wrap to the first day of the 2019 Aquatennial. We celebrated the evening with grand marshals Darwin Quintero of Minnesota United FC and Ann Kim, owner/chef of Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza and the 2019 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Midwest. This year’s CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and Life Time Torchlight 5K took place on 2nd Avenue and kicked off at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Programming along the parade route included activated plazas with games and activities for all ages.

2018 Aquatennial Blog | Saturday, July 21



Day 4 of the 2018 Minneapolis Aquatennial was truly one that every Minnesotan can be proud of.  Hundreds of thousands of people congregated in downtown mpls to wrap up this extraordinary 4-day celebration.  We got the day kicked off with an event that is new to Aquatennial, the Aquatennial Skyline Fest.  From 11am – 5pm, people were able to watch or participate in Stand-Up Paddleboard races, free Wilderness Inquiry canoe rides, free CorePower yoga, great vendors and more.



Yet another new event this year was the National Parks Service free tours and picnics on the Upper Saint Antony Falls Lock and Dam.  On a busy Saturday, the Lock and Dam would see typically see around 250 visitors.  However, during Aquatennial, they saw over 900 visitors come and take part in this fun new event.  We are very pleased with the success of this event and look forward to a continued relationship!



After the day-time activities were wrapping up, we were gearing up for the night. From 6-8pm, visitors were invited to the Guthrie Theater parking lot to check out AquaJam Best Trick, where local skateboarders were invited to compete on an awesome new obstacle – the Spoon and Cherry – for cash prizes.  We were blown away by the crowd that gathered to take in these sweet tricks on this beautiful night in downtown mpls.  People also stopped by to watch this event while waiting for the Target Fireworks, so that added to the number of attendees.



We are hearing that this year’s pre-fireworks festivities and entertainment were the best to date!  Due North, HC/MC, Of The Orchard, and The Grateful Red each played a 1-hour set for an absolutely huge crowd.  The tunes were bumping and the crowd was loving it for the entire 4 hours leading up to the Fireworks display. We also welcomed great food trucks to West River Parkway during this event.  Another huge success during this event was the Family Fun Zone presented by Tom’s of Maine.  Great vendors like the Vikings, Lynx, Twin Cities Road Crew, and more kept the kids entertained for hours.

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Finally, we wrapped up the 2018 Aquatennial with a crowd favorite.  The Target Fireworks – a top 5 fireworks show nationally – stunned everyone in the vicinity of downtown.  Concert-goers at Target Field quickly turned their attention from Luke Bryan to the Target Fireworks taking place in the distance.  We are so lucky to be able to work with a Zambelli Fireworks every year on this show, and we are beyond grateful to have sponsors like Target, who make this event and this celebration possible.

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Until next time, Minneapolis.

– The 2018 Minneapolis Aquatennial Team

2018 Aquatennial Blog | Friday, July 20



Day 3 welcomed another new event to the Minneapolis Aquatennial.  Aquatennial’s Fulton Downtown Thunderdome took place at the Fulton Taproom in downtown Minneapolis.  This criterium format city-street bike race was a unique event and a way for people to take in the action while also enjoying a delicious Fulton Brew.  People lined the streets and watched the bikes fly by in this exciting and successful new event!



We also finished up the Aquatenial Blood Drive with the third day of donations.  Again, the IDS Center Crystal Court was a busy place with many people stopping by to donate their time and their blood to the American Red Cross.  There was a bit of a hiccup that didn’t allow for donations for roughly two hours, but we still collected 25 donations on the last day.  Our 3-day total ended up being 95 donations – a HUGE success for Aquatennial and the American Red Cross.  We look forward to continuing this success in next year’s drive, so make your plans early to donate during Aquatennial!



Another new event this year was Alchemy 365’s free A10 fitness class at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  Around 125 fitness fanatics came out for this fun, high-energy class – and they were not disappointed!  Some people were familiar with Alchemy 365, some were first-timers, but they all came together and made this event a great success.



We finished off the third day of the 2018 Aquatennial with the second Twin Cities River Rats water ski show.  This event went extremely well despite the sprinkling rain an hour before the event was set to start.  Hundreds of fans lined West River Parkway in anticipation of the high-flying action of the River Rats.  The weather cleared up and the sun even came out towards the middle of the show, and these Little Ratscalls delivered!


2018 Aquatennial Blog | Thursday, July 19



Day 2 of the 2018 Aquatennial was one plagued by the fear of rain.  In typical fashion, the Aquatennial team handled this fear with ease and professionalism.  We endured the light rain and continued as planned.  We started off with another weekly event in the summer, the Nicollet Mall Farmers Market.  Dozens of market vendors lined the sidewalks of Nicollet and hundreds of people stopped by to stock up on fresh produce, flowers and more.



In the afternoon, we welcomed a new event to Aquatennial, the JB Hudson Family Fun Fest.  Activities included beading projects, color-your-own tiaras and watches, rock painting and a family photo station, plus hot dogs and cool treats.  This indoors event attracted many families who were looking for something a little different, and the JB Hudson team delivered with a great event that we hope to have back as part of Aquatennial in the future.



The second day of the Aquatennial blood drive was one for the record books.  The Red Cross received as Aquatennial Blood drive single-day record of 40 donations.  Lines of people were at the volunteer table all day trying to get their spot to donate, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the efforts by everyone – especially during the blood crisis happening now.



CorePower Yoga came back to Aquatennial this year with what was supposed to be a yoga session and guided meditation hike at Father Hennepin Bluff Park.  Unfortunately, we live in an unpredictable world and this event was forced into their downtown studio due to the weather.  Nonetheless, the Yogis came out in full force with a great showing – nearly filling their largest studio room.



Rounding out a strong second day of Aquatennial was a crowd favorite – the Twin Cities Rive Rats water ski show.  Again, the rain thinned the crowd a little bit, but that didn’t stop the die-hard fans from showing up and supporting this awesome group of performers.  This year’s theme was The Little Ratscalls.