If you’ve had the pleasure of celebrating the Fourth of July with us in Eagle River, you’ll know all about the excitement that surrounds our small downtown as the decorations go up and the visitors flood into town. While we think this little slice of heaven we call Eagle River is great every day of the year, there’s something that can’t be beat when it comes to the old-fashioned Americana of the Fourth of July celebrations here.
As far as we can tell, the area’s Fourth of July traditions can be dated back as far as 1899 or earlier based on a memoir by Mort Cook who was born in 1889. In his memoir, Cook describes the downtown adorned in red, white and blue with buntings and streamers galore. They even had special trees brought in to add to the decorations. The day would start at 5:00 a.m. with the shot of a cannon. Kids would start playing outside until 9:00 a.m. when the streets were lined for the annual parade. After the parade, there was a reading of the Declaration of Independence, speeches, contests and foot races until it was dark enough for the fireworks display.
While we don’t startle everyone at 5:00 a.m. by firing a cannon, not much has changed when it comes to celebrating America’s birthday in Eagle River. Perhaps that’s why people come here year after year to enjoy the wholesome Fourth of July that we cherish. Some, like the Ahrens have made visiting Eagle River during the Fourth of July a long-running tradition.
Dianne Ahrens’ family first started visiting the area in the 1950’s for visits to area cottages with friends. Dianne, her parents, brothers, sister and grandparents began what would become a long-running tradition of fishing, boating, seeing the fireworks, cocktail cruises, shopping for moccasins and spending the holiday together. As the family grew, the Ahrens started staying in a variety of Chanticleer Inn’s villas, motel rooms and condos and grew to love the facility and accommodations. Dianne’s father would rent boats from the Chanticleer Inn for fishing and, in his later years, to just explore the Chain of Lakes and watch for eagles. And he did so every year until passing at the age of 92.
Now-a-days, Dianne’s family retreat consists of 15 family members with her kids, their spouses, her grandkids and her sister all making the trek up to spend time together. She loves that her grandkids get to experience all of the things she loved doing in Eagle River – biking, hiking, shopping downtown, finding spots on the lake to watch the fireworks, and the friendliness of the Chanticleer Inn staff that hasn’t changed since she was a kid. It’s a tradition the Ahrens cherish together, and one that her children, and grand children have promised to keep alive for generations to come.
Fourth of July
Join us on the fourth for a Party in the Street downtown with live music by ‘Still Kicking’, an expanded beer garden to fund the fireworks, burgers and brats, corn on the cob, pie eating contest, kids activities (bounce house, face painting and more) and of course the spectacular Eagle River Parade featuring over 80 entrants and specialty floats.
Then make your way to the Vilas County Fairgrounds (located on Hwy 70W of Eagle River) for a spectacular firework event sponsored by the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, City of Eagle River, Eagle River Main Street Program, Eagle River Business Association, and the Eagle River community at large. We’re very proud to have the Eagle River Area Volunteer Fire Department deploy the fireworks for us.