Stuffing, Dilly Bars and more; Ely celebrates a sunny, spectacular Fourth of July in style

BIG CROWDS gathered all along Ely’s Fourth of July parade route. This year’s parade lasted more than an hour-and-a-half. Photos by Eric Sherman.

by Tom Coombe -

Parade-goers anywhere can scoop up some candy on the Fourth of July.
But where else but Ely can they take home Stove Top Stuffing and munch on an ice cold Dilly Bar?
Perhaps those were among the reasons that Ely’s Fourth of July parade attracted a massive crowd, even though Independence Day fell nearly mid-week on the calendar.
The day of the week didn’t seem to matter in Ely, where crowds lined up four and five deep along much of the route, which started near the Ely school campus, snaked to Sheridan Street and then up the main drag to Whiteside Park.
Thousands appeared to gather, and as usual, many went home with bag fulls of goodies.
In addition to the candy thrown out by many of the participants, Zup’s Food Market lived up to tradition with its unique collection of giveaways.
Topping the list year was box after box of Stove Top Stuffing, handed out by Zup’s staff and Ely store manager Jimmy Zupancich, in clown attire.
It was a year ago that Zup’s marked its 100th birthday by giving away 7,400 bags of oyster crackers and 12 pallets of M&M’s.
This year, another Ely business celebrated an anniversary with a giveaway of its own.
The Ely DQ Grill and Chill has been owned by the Ivancich family for 50 years and to mark the half-century, longtime owner Virgie Ivancich rode in a float while sons Frank and Paul handed out ice-cold Dilly Bars and coupons for discounted items at the east end store.
“We gave away about 1,100 or 1,200 Dilly Bars,” said Paul Ivancich. “We gave Dilly Bars to kids and couponed as many people as we could. It was a way to thank our longtime customers.”
The generosity was appreciated along the parade route.
“They were chanting my mom’s name,” said Paul Ivancich. “She thought it was terrific and the parade was great.”
Parade-goers enjoyed fantastic conditions, with sunny skies and mild temperatures throughout the day.
The parade was no small affair, with dozens and dozens of participants lining up and stretching the event to almost two hours.
Ely’s high school band was joined by the band from nearby Northeast Range (Babbitt) and, of course, the Ely Klown Band.
Polka music and horses, classic cars and large trucks, pageant participants and hockey hair were all part of the lineup.
So, too, were politicians.
The event attracted two candidates in next year’s race for governor: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.
Attorney General Lori Swanson also was part of the parade, as was U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has deep Ely roots.
Klobuchar has been a regular participant in the Ely parade since winning election to the Senate in 2006.
The parade was organized by a city committee, and festivities also carried over to the park, where Young Life organized games and races and served hundreds of sandwiches and soft drinks.
The crowds focused on Miners Lake at dusk, where a 30-minute fireworks display - complete with a delayed grand finale - closed out another Independence Day in Ely.