This 4th of July Parade is Swanville Minnesota’s Best Kept Secret

Ok, so technically the town it happens in is Pillsbury but that “town” is really just a lake community.

Every year on the 4th of July, this little community is THE place to be for the most unique parade around. People will put out chairs and coolers to claim their spots on the one-road-route early in the morning. The parade only runs down one narrow road that winds around Little Swan Lake. Not a lot of space for quite a lot of people.

This little parade has one key feature that sets it apart from every other one. There are no forms or fees to fill out and submit, no marching bands to line up, no waving princesses. This parade is all about showing up and showing your patriotic pride, not matter what your ride. If you want to be in this parade, you just need to get in line.

When I was a kid, my dad drove a rusty ’53 Volkswagen convertible with flowers painted on the sides by my sister and I. That car was part of the Pillsbury parade more times than I can count. My first year working for Mix 94.9, we tricked out the family golf cart with vinyl roll-a-banners and had that be a “float” in the parade. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun.

Other notable parade vehicles from the past include:

  • The guy that dresses like Uncle Sam and plays music to promote his DJ business
  • A motor home painted like the General Lee from Dukes of Hazard
  • The hay rack that hands beer off the sides of it
  • The ox cart that is at the tail end of the parade every year.

The parade starts at the intersection of 331st Ave and Flicker Trail (right by the public beach), heads down towards County Road 12, turns around in someone’s yard, and heads back. That’s the whole route. Nothing fancy or frivolous, just clean and simple 4th of July fun.

If you are looking for a different kind of parade this 4th of July, I suggest the Pillsbury Parade. The amount of fun you can have in that small lake community will have you coming back year after year. The start time is roughly 2 PM, but I suggest getting there early to save your spot.


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