Independence Day has always been a day for Americans to appreciate the country they live in, a day to wear the red, white and blue with shameless pride.
In Devils Lake on Thursday afternoon, Roosevelt Park was transformed into a sanctuary of patriotism as over 1,000 people turned out to celebrate the fourth of July in grand style.
Following the parade downtown, people flocked to the park to enjoy a free picnic, sponsored by the Devils Lake Kiwanis and Rotary clubs for the tenth year running.
The Devils Lake Rural Fire Department also chipped in, as they have every year, with the cooking duties, and members from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) were also there to help out. According to representatives from all volunteer groups, this year's turnout was particularly impressive.
"Normally we serve around 600-700 burgers, and probably 300-400 brats," said Garry Vick, former Devils Lake Rural fire chief. "This year, we've got another 400 wieners on top of that. It's growing every year, and the turnout today has been phenomenal."
With so many people at the park on Thursday, the picnic would have been far less successful without spectacular weather, which, thankfully for Devils Lake, was the case as temperatures stayed around 80˚ along with crystal-clear skies.
Such pleasant weather allowed all in attendance to grab a plate, grab a chair and take in all the Independence Day festivities under a warm, refreshing sun.
In addition to the high number of people in attendance, all demographics were also represented at the picnic.
"If you take a look at our crowd, we have a lot of kids, a lot of families and a lot of seniors," said Greg Otis, a Devils Lake Rotary Club member. "This is trailers-to-mansions here today, and that's the beauty of it."
All volunteer groups involved with this event seemed more than enthusiastic to help out at the picnic, boasting a service-above-self mentality as they prepared food for the masses. Kiwanis, Rotary and the Rural Fire Department have been involved with the picnic since its inauguration ten years ago, and RSVP has been helping out for the past five.
"This is a labor of love for everybody," Otis said. "If it weren't for volunteers in this country, things like this just wouldn't get done."
The picnic has always been free to the public. It was only until two years ago when a free-will-offering box was put out for donations.
"When this event first got started, we never put out any kind of offering plate or anything like that," volunteer Senator Dave Oehlke said. "But then we'd have people come up to us afterwards asking how much they owe. So we finally decided to put out a box for donations, and honestly, we don't care if a person puts in one dollar or ten. It just doesn't matter.
Page 2 of 2 - "This whole program is a part of independence day, it's a part of the celebration and we know what that's all about. It's a big deal for this country, and it's a big deal for Devils Lake."
Group officials estimated that upwards of $2,000 were collected from the free-will offering.