Party in the Park began as a City-wide
celebration centering on the Fourth of July. Phyllis McQuaid
was a driving force, and she gave it its name as well. It
was organized by a group of volunteers, and the City was not
involved with the planning other than the obtaining of
Its first year was 1980, and it was held at Aquila Park.
featured food, a band concert, a kiddie carnival, a
parachutist, and a parade over two to three days. Each year,
VFW Post 5632 sponsored fireworks on the Fourth of July, as
they had since 1952.
On July 3, 1980, Mayor Phyllis McQuaid
and the City Council sponsored Pioneer Night at Knollwood
Mall. Invited were the city’s 50 year residents – “Pioneers
in the Park.” On the 4th, conditions were too windy for hot
air balloon ride, but three out of four skydivers from the
Fall Company hit their marks. A 10K run attracted more than
300 runners, with Park residents breaking the tape in the
men’s and women’s categories.
Jim Rhodes was the Chairman of the 1981 celebration. A
featured entertainer was guitarist Peter Lang, who performed
at a carnival at Knollwood. Also entertaining was the
Shakey’s Banjo-Keyboard Band. A 5,000 meter and 10K run were
planned. The “Pioneers in the Park” recognition ceremony
featured the St. Louis Park Community Band and a barbershop quartet
called “Something Else.”
1981 Party in the Park Run
In 1982, the hot air balloon The Phoenix drew a crowd to
Carpenter Park, including 90-year-old Bertha Townsend, who
remarked that she wished the balloon had gone higher.
Entertainment at the Volunteer Recognition Dinner at
Knollwood was provided by the newly-formed Community Chorus,
the St. Louis Park Community Stage Band and the Recycled Teenagers, a
senior citizens dance group. An Olde Town Picnic was held at
Jorvig Park, sponsored by the St. Louis Park Historical
Society, and featuring the Twin Cities Harmonica Society.
City and School staff played their “Town Versus Gown”
softball game, with the City winning 10-2. (The school team
was spared a more humiliating defeat by a rule allowing no
more than 5 runs per inning.) Another activity was a street
dance in the parking lot behind City Hall. Performances by
the Community Theater were sponsored by Party in the Park.
Fireworks were at Aquila Park. Other events were a 10K and a
In 1983, weather conditions were not right for the hot air
balloon, but kids could get a peek inside. On July 4, Mark
Nachbor won the 10K run. The City took on the Schools in a
“town versus gown” softball game, with the City winning 7-2.
The 1984 celebration was held on July 3-7, and besides the
annual fireworks, featured hot air balloons and a team of
skydivers called the Fall Guys. Athletics were featured,
including a fun run and 10K event. There were also
tournaments in softball, baseball, tennis, and sand
volleyball. The community band played, the
Lions Club Clowns
entertained, vintage cars were displayed at Jorvig Park, and
a Recognition Night was held at Knollwood Mall.
The 1985 edition of Party in the Park was held from June 29
to July 7. Co-chairmen were Lyle Hanks and Jim Rhodes. Again
one of the big features was the Fall Guys, but it was an
almost-rainy day, and the wind knocked three of the divers
off course. One landed in the crowd, one at Meadowbrook Golf
Course, and one in Hopkins. Despite rain, the fireworks went
on as scheduled, lasting for 45 minutes. The High School
hosted a drum and bugle corps competition on July 5, won by
the Minnesota Brass.
The 1986 fireworks marked the 32nd year that the VFW had
sponsored fireworks in St. Louis Park. In addition, the
program included a Beep Ball Invitational Tournament, a Big
Wheel Contest, a concert by the Community Band, other
concerts and dances, and a tennis tournament.
Club purchased a Showmobile for the City, which had been
renting one owned by Edina.
The 1987 celebration was held on July 1 – 6, and featured
carnival rides, fireworks, and much music by the White
Sidewalls, the Flames, and the Northern Dixie Ramblers Band.
In 1988, the festival was held from June 28 to July 5, and
Candy Johnson served as Chairperson. Attractions included a
kiddie carnival, plays, a picnic, and a concert by the
Minneapolis Chamber Symphony.
In 1989 the celebration was held from June 28 to July 4, and
featured the Buffalo Skydivers, the community band, a kiddie
carnival at Aquila Park, Log Rolling by the Fischer Bros.
Log Rolling Show, a Big Band concert at Oak Hill Park, a
teen pool party and dance, and an ice cream social at the
Depot. Candy Johnson served as Chairperson.
The 1991 Party in the Park Chairperson was Bonnie Blumberg.
That year’s festivities included a parade, antique car show,
carnival, bands, and of course, fireworks.
Bud Kraehling was the Grand Marshall of the parade held on
July 1, 1992. There was a Bernie’s Super Valu Baseball
Contest (ages 5-6) held at Carlson Park. Other activities
were a carnival at Aquila School, a car show at Walser Ford,
live music, a “Teach-in on Declaration of Independence and
Constitution.” And fireworks at Aquila Park.
1993 saw the first annual All-City Talent Show. Other events
were a fashion show at Knollwood, parade, fireworks at
Aquila Park, arts and crafts festival at Miracle Mile, and
music by the Wolf Pack and Sneakers & Tight Shoes.
1994 was kicked off by a parade on June 29, and events ran
through July 4. Events included fireworks at Aquila Park,
music by the Del Counts, and the Second Annual All-City
1995 activities included many Senior Olympics events:
horseshoes, basketball and horse, billiards, and table
tennis. The Minnesota Shakespeare Co. presented “The Twelfth
Night” at Oak Park Village. Also at Oak Park Village were a
carnival, petting zoo, All-City Talent Show, senior royalty
coronation, and music by Sneakers and Tight Shoes. The Miss
St. Louis Park pageant was held Sheraton Park Place Hotel on
June 29, and was followed by a dance.
Party in the Park was replaced by
Parktacular in 1997.