"Crazy Days" continues heartfelt tradition despite shrinking downtown
Devils Lake- Even though some of the store fronts are now empty, that hasn't deterred the hearts of the Lake Region Community from enjoying one of the favorite traditions of over 30 years.
Last Friday, the community gathered downtown to enjoy a day of activities, comradery, and bargain shopping - or as it has been known for over 30 years- Crazy Days. The event, which according to one local downtown shop owner was put together to help aid the efforts to support the downtown shop owners, has been a longstanding tradition where shops will set up right in the streets and meet and greet with the community, while other local entities, including local police, firefighters, and schools provide entertainment and activities.
ND Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Scanlan said that since moving to Devils Lake in 2016, he felt a strong sense of community and felt the special event was a great way of supporting it.
"“It is pretty important, especially if you look at what we kind of went through last year with COVID.," Scanlan said. "It is nice that people can get back to what we were before that. Get out, see their friends, go and do some frivolous shopping, maybe get a discount t-shirt, but at the end, we know the owners of all of the businesses, we see them as friends as well as providers for the community. I think it is very important that we do things like this.”
Scanlan said that the event gave the guard an opportunity to speak on how they help the community, while also a chance to bring a Humvee for kids to play in, which he said was pretty cool as he remembers growing up as a kid, he liked to see army men in uniform.
"Now that I am that army man in uniform, it is pretty cool to see the kids look at it and say ‘oh it is so big and cool,’" Scanlan said. "Just gets that mysticism back. It is like when kids see firefighters and cops and they see the big trucks.”
In addition to kids getting to play in the Humvee and talking to the National Guard, also supporting the event, was Devils Lake's police and fire department, which provided a police cruiser and fire engine for kids to take a tour on.
Fire Chief Nathan Bennett said he has been coming down to the event for at least the last four years if he was on shift and if he wasn't, he would come down anyway out of uniform. Bennett said this year he had three firefighter that participated in the White Knights weightlifting event.
For the chief, the end goal for their participation in the event, beyond supporting the downtown businesses, is to get exposure.
"We want to get the kids out and get them to come see the trucks because we don’t want the kids to be scared of the fire department when they show up," Bennett said. "Normally, when you see the fire department it is a bad situation. We want them to get comfortable seeing us, so they know when we get there everything is OK."
Bennett said typically, when people come into town, they will go to shops not in downtown and then go fishing and that the Crazy Days event was a good way to draw people downtown to see the community.
With Devils Lake being a smaller community, Bennett said he felt this event was very important to the success of the community.
"When you get people that just moved to town from a larger city where they maybe don’t have events like this, this gets people drawn out and you get to meet those new people in town, get to network a little bit and you get to meet new people and opportunities open up from there," he said.
Bennett said their department runs off of a great number of volunteers and the event can also help them in their recruitment.
Some local shop owners have said that, with the decline of businesses in downtown and the effects of COVID-19, which caused the cancellation of the event last year, they were spectacle of the turnout of the event this year, but local shops said they were pleased that people were coming out and supporting the community and their businesses.