The Minneapolis Aquatennial was a summertime celebration that started in 1940 as a way to boost the profile of the city.  At the time, its only skyscraper, the Foshay Tower, was only a year old, but optimism was high that Minneapolis would grow into a major metropolitan city.  National figures were brought in to perform and to ride in the two parades:  The daytime Grande Day Parade and the nighttime Torchlight Parade.  The following may not be a complete list, but it’s a start.  Much of this material has come from Pam Albinson’s book, Seventy-Five Years of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, Nodin Press 2014


AQUATENNIAL 1940

National guests at this very first Minneapolis Aquatennial were:

  • Bob Hope, Grand Marshall
  • Gene Autry and his horse Champion, Grand Marshall
  • The Melody Ranch Gang
  • Chief One Bull (92 years old and last of the great Lakota warriors famous for the defeat of General Custer)
  • Patty Berg, famous golfer – demonstration at Theodore Wirth Park
geneautry1940

Gene Autry and the Melody Ranch Gang, Minnesota Historical Society

 

Over the Rainbow

See the brilliant Auditorium Evening Stage Revue, “Over the Rainbow,” presenting an enormous stage cast of dancers, singers, skaters and top-notch vaudeville artists from all parts of America.  Novel scenic and lighting effects, elaborate and gorgeous costumes, and thrilling acts from New York, Chicago, Frisco and other cities will enthrall you.  Two and a half hours of breath-taking entertainment will be climaxed by an inspiring finale, “America,” in which the entire company of 200 will take part.

Aquatennial songs

  • Western Airlines executive Mason Mallory wrote “Minneapolis at Aquatennial Time,” the official festival theme song.   Gail Farrell, a singer with the “Lawrence Welk Show,” made the song popular in later years, and it was also recorded by the Soidaires with the Red Wolfe Trio.
  • “Aquatennial Swing” was another song from 1940, written for the festival and the Minneapolis Tribune.  The music was written by George Barton, Jr., band leader at the Nicollet Hotel, and the words came from band members Tommy McGovern and Oscar Hirsch.
    • First line of the song:  “Greet your neighbor  with a howdy, call him pal but don’t be rowdy”
    • First line of chorus:  “Coast to coast and sea to sea, from Oregon to Tennessee, all roads lead to Minneapolis”
  • Another song from 1940 that may or may not have been associated with the Aquatennial was simply called “Minneapolis,” written by Hazel Bertram Butterfield:  “A song dedicated to beautiful Minneapolis, the city of lakes and parks.”

 

The Aqua Trot:  A new dance was created for the festival, and regional dance competitions were held in nine towns along the Mississippi River and at the Excelsior and Marigold Ballrooms.  On July 23, 1940, winners of these competitions met on Nicollet Avenue for a final dance competition.  Then 10,000 people participated in a street dance on three blocks of the closed-off street.  The dance was a basic “shag” step interspersed with actions that represented Minnesota sports.  A ton of borax spread on the street made it easier for dancers to glide.


AQUATENNIAL 1941

Entertainers who came for the festivities included:

  • Joe Louis, boxer
  • Paul Whiteman and His Band

 


AQUATENNIAL 1942

Brigadier General R. B. Rathbun was Grand Marshall at the Aquatennial parade.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1944

With most entertainers probably out rallying the troops, the Aquatennial’s celebrities were in other fields:

  • Sister Elizabeth Kenney
  • Minneapolis Mayor Marvin L. Kline

 


AQUATENNIAL 1945

Newly-elected Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey served as Grand Marshall of the Grande Day Parade.  He subsequently served this capacity in 1966, 1967, 1976,  1977 as U.S. Senator and U.S. Vice President.  In 1978 his wife, Muriel, served as Grand Marshall of the Parade as U.S. Senator.

 


 

AQUATENNIAL 1946

Opera star Robert Merrill was in town for the celebration.

 


 

AQUATENNIAL 1947

National performers included Gordon MacRae and singer/actress Joan Caulfied.  There was also a street dance, as evidenced by the photo below.

Minnesota Historical Society

 


AQUATENNIAL 1948

National performers gracing the City of Lakes included:

  • Arthur Godfrey
  • Alan and Sue Ladd
  • Marjorie Main (“Ma Kettle”)

 


AQUATENNIAL 1949

Visiting celebrities included:

  • U.S. Vice President Alben Barkley, Grande Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • BeBe Shoppe, Miss America
  • Bob Hope
  • Arthur Godfrey
  • Hubert Humphrey
  • Major General Paul L. Williams, Commander General of the 10th Air Force in Indiana
  • Fernando Chiriboga Villagomez, Mayor of Quito, Ecuador
  • Charles Coburn, actor
  • Mary Durey, Centennial Queen

 

bobhope1949

Photo Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

 

Radio Day

Starting in 1949, radio station owners and their guests were invited to a special days of events.  12 bands roamed the downtown streets, and were especially popular in front of Minneapolis’s major hotels:  the Andrews, Curtis, Dyckman, Leamington, Normandy, Radisson, and Pick-Nicollet.


 

AQUATENNIAL 1950

Visitors included:

  • Eddie Cantor
  • U.S. Vice President Alben Baarkley
  • Joan Blondell
  • Jannette David, Miss Denmark
  • Garry Moore, TV personality
  • Annapolis Midshipmen
  • Trygve Lie, Norwegian diplomat and first Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Alan Ladd

 

AQUATENNIAL 1951

Celebrity guests included:

  • Faye Emerson
  • Alan Ladd, actor
  • Dennis Morgan, actor
  • Ken Murray, actor
  • The Chordettes
  • Colleen Gray, actress
  • Clayton Moore – The Lone Ranger!

 


AQUATENNIAL 1952

National stars attending included:

  • Bob Hope, Grand Marshall
  • Ken Murray, actor
  • Helen Westcott, actress
  • Zacharay Scott, actor
  • Laurie Anders, actress who worked with Ken Murray
  • Verne Gagne, wrestler
  • Gorgeous George, wrestler
  • Edger Bergen with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd

 


 

AQUATENNIAL 1953

A big Aquatennial show took place on July 18, 1953, broadcast over WCCO Radio.  Performers included:

  • George Jessel
  • Victor Borge
  • The McGuire Sisters
  • LuAnn Simms

 

Other celebrities in town included:

  • Arlene Dahl, actress from Minneapolis
  • Bob Hope
  • Marion Marlowe, singer
  • Frank Parker, singer.

 

mcguiresistersfromPam

McGuire Sisters; Photo courtesy Pam Albinson, Hennepin History Museum

 

 


simmsluann1953

LuAnn Simms with local broadcaster Bob DeHaven. Photo courtesy Pam Albinson

 


According to the photo below from the 1953 Aquatennial Parade, the Chordettes starred in a music festival at Parade Stadium:

Photo by Gordon K. Andersen

 


 

AQUATENNIAL 1954

Many stars came to Minneapolis for the summer celebration in 1954:

  • Mae Winn
  • Robert Francis, actor
  • Clarabell the Clown (from Howdy Doody) entertained kids at Powderhorn Park
  • Betty Carr
  • Vera Ellen, singer and dancer
  • Carlos Thompson, actor
  • Art Linkletter, TV personality
  • Jack Carson, actor
  • Helen O’Connell, singer
  • Curt Massey, singer and TV host
  • Ramona Gerhard
  • Dave Garroway, TV personality
  • Major General Charles E. Yaeger

 

Choral groups such as the Carillon Singers, under the direction of Edith Byquist Norberg, entertained audiences for the fourth straight year.

The photos below are both called Aquatennial Street Dance, 1954 – Day and Night?  Minnesota Historical Society

 


 

AQUATENNIAL 1955

Guests began to get more interesting in 1955:

  • Mamie Van Doren, blonde bombshell
  • Sherre North, blonde bombshell
  • Tab Hunter, blonde bombshell
  • Buddy Rich, drummer
  • Jimmy Hatlo, creater of “Little Iodine” comic strip
  • Jimmy Carroll, tenor
  • Randy Merriman and Bess Myerson, hosts of “The Big Payoff” TV show
  • Carol Richards
  • Gary, Bob, and Cathy Crosby with the Modernaires

 

WCCO sponsored the Aquatennial Show on July 16, 1955, at the Minneapolis Auditorium, starring Bob Crosby, Jan Murray, Guy Mitchell, and the Modernaires.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1956

Celebrities visiting for the festival included:

  • Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy, vaudeville, movie, and TV actor couple
  • Felicia Sanders, singer
  • Cypress Gardens water skiiers
  • Charles Schultz, creator of “Peanuts” comic strip
  • Barbara Lang, blonde bombshell
  • Anne Francis, actress
  • Natalie Wood, actress
  • Rin Tin Tin, Rand Brooks (Corporal Boone) and Jim Brown (Lt. Rip Masters) from the TV Show “Rin Tin Tin.”  Former youngsters recall an appearance at Powderhorn Park.
  • Joaquin Capilla, 1956 Olympic High Dive winner
  • Don Cherry. On July 20 a quickly organized Don Cherry fan club of St. Louis Park High School girls, Jane McCanney, President, came to Wold-Chamberlain Airport to greet him.  They “will wear blue suede shoes and cordially invite Cherry to step on them.”

 

toppers1956

MHS has this photo identified as “The Toppers” at the 1956 Aquatennial Parade.  The Hilltoppers were a big national group; maybe the Toppers were an early Tribute Band?

 


On July 28, 1956, as part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, a show was presented at the “Bloomington Stadium.”  Performers included:

  • Ray Price
  • Ferlin Husky
  • Cowboy Copas
  • Simon Crum
  • Lonzo & Oscar
  • Hushpuppies
  • Wilburn Bros.
  • Carlisles
  • Mitchell Torok
  • Radio Dot & Smokey
  • Sugar Foot Collins
  • Ida Red
  • Kentucky Travelers
  • Johnny “T”

 


AQUATENNIAL 1957

Luminaries in town for the festival include:

  • Col. Marion E. Carl, flying ace, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • The Crew Cuts
  • Jayne Mansfield
  • Jimmy Stewart
  • James Arness, Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke”
  • Bob Barker, host, “Truth or Consequences.”
  • Frank Allison, “Kukla, Fran, and Ollie”
  • Eddie Fisher, singer and actor
  • Roger Williams, pianist
  • Mike Connolly, Hollywood reporter
  • Sid Lippman, songwriter
  • Esther Williams, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade

 

Emcees at the Queen of the Lakes Coronation were Cedric Adams and George Grim.

 

In 1957 a new Aquatennial theme song, “MINN-MINN-MINN-MINNE-A-PO-LIS, Minn.,” was written by V. Arthur Koivumki.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1958

Guests were more mainstream this year:

  • Richard Nixon, U.S. Vice President, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Esther Williams, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Dave Garroway, host, “The Today Show”
  • Don McNeil, host, “Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club”

 


 

 AQUATENNIAL 1959

A long list of luminaries here in town in 1959:

  • Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN Chief of Naval Ops, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • William Egan, Governor of Alaska, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Mahalia Jackson, singer
  • Vic Damone, singer
  • Woody Herman and His Band
  • Steve Lawrence, singer
  • Catherine Emma
  • Larry Gray
  • Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Greenjeans
  • Jerry Mathers, “Leave it to Beaver”
  • Arlene Dahl (possibly)

 

There was also a Hawaiian Review, led by hula expert Nona Beamer, in honor of Hawaii’s entry into the United States in 1959.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1960
“Music on Parade,” an Aquatennial Spectacular, took place on July 17, 1960, at Met Stadium.  Performers included:

  • Mahalia Jackson – World’s Greatest Gospel Singer
  • Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, a very cool jazz trio
  • Woody Herman and His Thundering Herd
  • Vic Damone
  • 500-voice choir

 


AQUATENNIAL 1961

Celebrities who joined in the fun included:

  • Buddy Ebsen
  • Marilyn Maxwell, actress
  • Lassie!
  • Annette Funicello
  • Gardner McKay, actor, “Adventures in Paradise” TV show

 

TV Host Jack Daly brought his show “Queen for a Day” to the City for the duration of the festival.

 

In 1961, the Minneapolis Cine Club filmed the ten-day festival, and produced a 28-minute movie, The Aquatennial Story, with sound and color.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1962

Guests for the Best Days of Summer included:

  • Judith Bueno
  • Evandro de Castro Lima, ballet dancer, costume designer from Carnival in Rio
  • Don McNeil, host, “Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club”
  • Cypress Gardens Water Skiing Group

 

In 1962 a new song, “Her Majesty the Queen,” was written to honor the Queen of the Lakes.  It was performed for the Coronation Ball by the Naval Band.

The show before the Grande Day Parade at Parade Stadium featured Willie Peterson and his 40-piece band, including 12 trumpets, nine trombones, and four sets of drums.  Bill Diehl was the emcee.

The show before the Torchlight Parade featured Captain Cresso, who (according to Vic Burton of the Mpls. Daily Herald) “is supposed to roll down a giant coaster slide in an aqua rocket car, sail through the air and land in a net.”

 

 

 


AQUATENNIAL 1963

Celebrities who came to celebrate with Minneapolis included:

  • Tippi Hedren, actress and West High alum, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Kirby Grant, actor, “Sky King”
  • Martin Milner and Glenn Corbett, actors, “Route 66”  (in town to film an episode)
  • Ferrante and Teicher, pianists
  • Everly Brothers
  • Rufe Davis, actor, “Petticoat Junction”
  • Horace McMahon, actor, “Naked City”

 

On July 19, 1963, WDGY presented an Aquatennial Music Spectacular at Parade Stadium.  Headliners were:

  • Little Peggy March
  • Tommy Roe
  • Mike Clifford
  • Ray Stevens

 

Steve Brown took the photo above at the 1963 Aquatennial parade. The bouffant must be Little Peggy – she did have big hair.


 

Little Peggy March


cliffordmike

The guy in the car doesn’t look much like Tommy Roe or Ray Stevens, so I’m betting he’s Mike Clifford (one-hit wonder with “Close to Cathy”). What do you think?


 

Not to be outdone, on July 23, 1963, KDWB and William A. Meyer promoted an Aquatennial concert by “the Dynamic” Ferrante & Teicher at Metropolitan Stadium, playing the exciting themes from “West Side Story,” “The Apartment,” “Cleopatra,” and “Exodus.”

 


AQUATENNIAL 1964

Celebrity guests for the 1964 Aquatennial included:

  • Gene Autry, Grand Marshall
  • William Windom, actor
  • Mike Stokey, game show host
  • Pat Suzuki, actress
  • Jan and Dean “riding skateboards pulled by a car on tow-ropes”
  • Marty Robbins, country singer
  • Ross Martin, actor
  • Richard Long, actor
  • Stubby Kaye, actor
  • Sebastian Cabot, actor
  • Connie Hines, actress, “Mr. Ed”

 

A new event in 1964 was something called “Organ Fantasy,” held at Parade Stadium.  It featured keyboard artist Eddie Dunstedter on the Wurlitzer, and Shay Torrent and Axel Alexander on Hammonds.  Speakers for the event cost $20,000.

 

Gary Gimmestad remembers the Castaways on a float in the Parade doing “Liar, Liar.”

On July 17, 1964, WDGY sponsored a rock ‘n’ roll show at Parade Stadium in conjunction with the Aquatennial.  Acts included:

  • Jan and Dean
  • Johnny Cymbal
  • Johnny Nash
  • Betty Everett
  • Jerry Wallace
  • The Initials
  • New singing sensation Frankie Randall, with his song “Girls in Summer Dresses”

AQUATENNIAL 1965

Guests for the festivities included:

  • Miguel Guajardo, General Coordinator of the Mexican Ministry of Tourism, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Johnny Mathis, singer, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade.  Johnny also performed at the Young America Show at Parade Stadium on July 22.
  • Ed Nelson, actor, “Peyton Place”
  • Mike Douglas, talk show host
  • Lynn Borden, actress, “Hazel”
  • Bobby Rydell, singer
  • Bobby Vee, singer
  • Edgar Zelle (Jefferson Bus Co.?)
  • Major General Winston P. Wilson
  • The Village Stompers, Dixieland band, performed July 19-24 at Southdale, sponsored by the Southdale Merchants Association
  • Marv Denis IV
  • Randy Brown
  • The Young Americans
  • Frank Fontaine – “Crazy Guggenheim” on the Jackie Gleason Show

 

The Aqua Holiday Show replaced the Aqua Follies.  Entertainment included the singing duo of Nelson Eddy and Gale Sherwood.


There were many activities for Teens in 1965:

  • Aqua Teen Key Club at Capp Towers, July 16-25
  • Aqua Teen Fashion Show, Young-Quinlan Rothschild, July 16-25
  • Aqua Beach Part Teen Dance, Lake Harriet, July 17
  • Teen Day, July 19
    • Aqua Teens in Aqua Downtown
    • Teen Art Exhibit, Young-Quinlan Rothschild
    • Teen Stage Show
    • Hobby Show
    • Pool and Billiards Finals
    • Aqua-WDGY Teen Show and Dance, Minneapolis Auditorium
  • Aqua Teen Dance, 9th and Hennepin, July 22
  • Teen Beach Party, Lake Harriet, July 24

A Downtown Aquatennial Variety Show included jazz acts:

  • Mary Davies (a/k/a “Carmen the Nurse)
  • The Jerry Mayeron Jazz Group
  • The Herb Schoenbaum Jazz Trio
  • The Dave Moscoe Trio

 


The “Greatest Midwest Talent Hunt Ever” was planned for the 1965 Aquatennial, with the winner receiving $1,000 and a guest shot on the Jackie Gleason Show.  The talent search coordinator was Robert Benham.  Contestants competed in four categories:  Vocal, Instrumental, Dance, and Misc.  (Minnetonka Record, July 1, 1965)

 


AQUATENNIAL 1966

Celebrities in town for the 1966 festival included:

  • Hubert H. Humphrey, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Agnes Moorhead, actress
  • Dale Robertson, actress
  • Russell Johnson, actor, “Gilligan’s Island”
  • Van Williams
  • Bruce Lee
  • Rear Admiral Paul E. Trimble
  • Rear Admiral Richard Fowler
  • Allen King, commedian
  • Winnipeg Police Band
  • NORAD Command Band
  • The Travelers, folk music group
  • Jay Chau, “Kato” on “The Green Hornet”
  • Dorothy Collins, TV personality and singer
  • Bert Parks, game show host

 

An Aqua Pops program presented “The Sound of Music,” with Dorothy Collins, “America’s singing sweetheart,” and “The Music Man” with Bert Parks.


 

JIMMY REED ON THE FLAGPOLE

In conjunction with the Aquatennial, KDWB disc jockey Jimmy Reed spent (a reported 21 days) on top of a flagpole in downtown Minneapolis starting on July 5, 1966.  Don Betzold recalled, “It wasn’t really a flagpole. It was a small shack hoisted on a small tower on the corner of 9th and Nicollet. I stopped and visited him one morning, and he lowered a Bob Dylan album for me. Although he broadcast his morning show from there, there were reports that he went inside the adjacent Young-Quinlan-Rothschild building at night. I don’t recall if he spent 21 days up there, but it was a while.”  A KDWB “Fabulous Forty” survey that Don donated to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting called the shack a “four-story-high flag pole playhouse.”  John Pratt saved an article from the Minneapolis Star reporting that four hoodlums set the crepe-paper wrapping on the 40-ft. pole on fire.  “Police said the wood snow fence frame beneath the paper had ignited at several points.. The whole tower and Reed’s escape rope would have burned had the wood had a chance to get a good start.”  Reed slept through the whole thing.


Also for the Aquatennial, “Where The Action Is” came to Minneapolis in July 1966.  Clark did his intros from Lake Calhoun, and showed a turtle race and karate exhibition. Apparently the format of the show was to go to various places and film acts lipsynching to their songs.  Then each week Clark would be at one of the locations, show a clip of one act from that location, then the rest of the acts were from various other locations.  The Minneapolis episode aired on August 16, but the only act shown that performed in Minnesota was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, who lipsynched “See See Rider/Jenny Take a Ride” and “Takin’ All I Can Get” from a pontoon boat in the lake.  The other acts were in other geographical settings:  Brenda Lee was in California (“Bye Bye Blues” and “I’m Sorry”), Keith Allison was in Tokyo (“Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”), Steve Alaimo sang “Hold On, I’m Coming” from Central Park in New York, and Steve and Tina Mason sang “You Got What it Takes” from California.  Bullwinkle sold Cheerios and kids were encouraged to buy Stridex pads for “excited skin.”  Although Paul Revere and the Raiders were not in the episode, they must have been there and taped a performance there for future airing; supposedly they were the victims of an airplane strike and were stranded in Minneapolis for two days after filming.  Their song “The Great Airplane Strike” resulted.  The Happenings were also there doing “See You in September.”  The show is now available on DVD:  Where The Action Is Volume I at www.thevideobeat.com – check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll TV section.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1967

Celebrity guests included:

  • Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Phillip Pillsbury, Honorary Grand Marshall
  • Alan S. Boyd, Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Anita Bryant, singer
  • Herb Shriner, game show host and humorist
  • Brigadier General Arthur Adams
  • M. Charles Lucet, French Ambassador
  • Emmett Kelly, clown
  • Julius La Rosa, singer
  • Nancy Ames, folk singer
  • Jim Lange, host, “The Dating Game”
  • Sally Field, actress, “The Flying Nun”
  • Dolly Holliday
  • Martin Landau, actor, “Mission Impossible”
  • McDonald Carey, actor, “Days of Our Lives”

 

Other 1967 Aquatennial events include:

  • The Sonny and Cher show without Cher
  • Happening ’67

 

See the Events page for descriptions of those shows.

Also, an incident at the Torchlight parade set off the 3-day North Side riots.  For a day-to-day description of those events, see my page for the St. Louis Park Historical Society, Race, Creed, Color.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1968

Visiting celebrities included:

  • Peter Graves, Martin Landau, Greg Morris, and Peter Lupus, actors, “Mission Impossible”
  • Gordon Murray
  • Olavi Munkki, Ambassador from Finland
  • Lorenz Petersen, Consul General from Denmark
  • Bengt Odevall, Counel General from Sweden
  • Oyvind Scott-Hansen, Consul General from Norway
  • Per  Bertil Kollberg, Minister Plenipotentiary from Sweden
  • Walter U. hauser, Consul from Germany
  • Esko E. Ranta, Vice Consul from Finland
  • Bob Keeshan, “Captain Kangaroo”
  • John Gallos, “Clancy the Cop”
  • Allan Lottsberg, “Willie Ketchum”
  • Mary Davies, “Carmen the Nurse”
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Robert Taylor, actor
  • Emmett Kelly, clown

 

See Events for a description of an Aquatennial-related concert by Aretha Franklin.

 

Nicollet Mall opened in time for Aquatennial events.


AQUATENNIAL 1969

Dignitaries who appeared at the Aquatennial in 1969 included:

  • Maurice Stans, Secretary of Commerce, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Arthur Godfrey, Celebrity Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • His Excellency Frank H. Corner, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the U.S., Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Gale Gordon, actor
  • Raymond Bailey, actor
  • Bob Keeshan, “Captain Kangaroo”
  • Bridget Hanley, David Soul, actors, “Here Come the Brides”
  • Mike Farrell, actor, “Days of Our Lives”
  • Gene Bua, actor, “Love of Life”
  • Karen Carlson, actress, “Here Come the Brides;” married to David Soul

 

Dionne Warwick headlined the opening night show on July 18, brought in by promoter Arnie Sagarski.  The concert was at the Minneapolis Auditorium and was co-sponsored by the Aquatennial and WDGY, whose “All-American” disc jockeys served as hosts.  Accompanying Ms. Warwick was Woody Herman and his Orchestra.  Gary Puckett and the Union Gap may have also been on the bill.

Activities included a line-dance (as in the Parkettes) competition and a “highly amplified” Beach Party at Lake Calhoun.


AQUATENNIAL 1970

Dignitaries included:

  • Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Robert Channing Seamans, Jr., Grand Marshall of the Grande Twighlight Parade
  • Isaac Hayes, Celebrity Grand Marshall of Grande Twighlight Parade
  • Takeso Shimoda, Japanese Ambassador, Grande Marshall of the Torchlight Parade

 

Events associated with the 1970 Aquatennial included:

  • Aqua Soul Spectacular, starring the Isaac Hayes Movement, July 17 at the Minneapolis Auditorium
  • Victor Borge and the Minnesota Orchestra, July 18 at Northrop Auditorium
  • Schweigert Band Contest, July 19 at the NW National Life Plaza
  • Aquateen Scene Show, July 21 at Har Mar Mall
  • Torchlight Parade, July 22
  • Beach Party at Lake Calhoun, July 26

 

The Aquatennial Admiral’s Ball was held at the Pick-Nicollet Hotel on July 17, 1970.  Performing were Danny’s Reasons, Thundertree, the Sir Raleighs, and Joey Hyatt.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1971

Dignitaries attending the 1971 Aquatennial included:

  • Honorable George Walter, Prime Minister of Antigua, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Honorable Branford M. Taitt, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Mark Wilson, Illusionist
  • Bahamas Goombay (This is actually a form of music and the instrument used to play it.)
  • Lt. General James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle
  • Jamaica Military Band

 

The WMIN Shower of Stars appeared at the Minneapolis Auditorium on July 18,1971, featuring:

  • Roy Clark
  • Sonny James
  • Hank Thompson
  • Sammi Smith
  • Ray Price

 

There was also a Beach Party at Lake Calhoun on July 25, 1971.


AQUATENNIAL 1972

These people were very famous in 1972:

  • David Cassidy (!), actor, “The Partridge Family,” Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Honorable Nevelle Kanakeratne, Ambassador from Ceylon, Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Honorable Lakshmi Kant Jha, Ambassador from India
  • Ritha Devi, dancer from India
  • Pot Rum Steelers
  • Lt. General Ira C. Eaker, USAF
  • Senator Walter Mondale
  • Kim Carnes, singer
  • Dave Ellington

 

B.J. Thomas was scheduled to perform on July 28, 1972 but the show was cancelled because of illness.

David Cassidy performed on July 30, 1972.

 


AQUATENNIAL 1973

Visitors to our fair city in 1973 included:

  • Honorable Simcha Dinitz, Israelii Ambassador to the U.S., Grand Marshall, Torchlight Parade
  • Billy Graham, Grand Marshall, Grande Day Parade
  • Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., U.S. Navy
  • Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse
  • Colonel Sanders
  • Larry Linville, actor, “M*A*S*H”
  • Arnold Stang, actor
  • Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator
  • Walter Mondale, U.S. Senator
  • Samika Kaura

 

Doc Evans and his Dixieland Combo performed at the Aquatennial Schweigert Jazz Contest.

docevans1973

Photo Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society


 

KDWB sponsored an Aquatennial Beach Party/Rock Festival at Lake Calhoun on July 19, 1973.  It was organized by Don Cline and Chuck Buell from KD.  Rain kept the crowd to 5,000 – 10,000.  Performing were Tony Joe White, Brownsville Station, and Don Bleu and the Upper Division.  Rain cancelled Marshall Tucker, but they came back the following Tuesday and performed at Minnehaha Falls, as did the band Straight Up.


AQUATENNIAL 1974

Visiting dignitaries included:

  • Captain Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 17 Astronaut
  • Bob Keeshan, “Captain Kangaroo”
  • Errol Mahabr, Minister of Industry from Trinidad and Tobago
  • Rear Admiral Warren H. O’Neil, U.S. Navy
  • Alex Dreier, broadcaster and actor
  • Royal Court of Aloha Week, Honolulu
  • Strategic Air Command Band
  • Tom Poston, actor
  • Gale Storm, singer and actress
  • Chris Darrell, 1974 King of Mardi Gras
  • Santana
  • Melba Montgomery, country singer
  • Maritime Life Hatters, steel drum orchestra
  • Trinidad Drum and Bugle Corps
  • Johnny Roventini, “Johnny the Bellboy” for Phillip Morris cigarettes

 

The first annual Aquatennial Polkarama was held at the Leamington Hotel, with dance instructor David LaVay providing an exhibition of polka moves.  Six, count ’em, six polka bands performed for the happy feet:

  • The Mroszinske Brothers
  • Dr. Lester Schuft
  • Florien Chimielewski
  • Rod Cerer
  • Wally Pikal
  • The Polish Brass with Roger Stigney

 

The Marityme Dance drew 2,000 people, dancing to Don Cavitt’s Band and The Road Gang.