Elk River to celebrate Independence Day with flare

by Jim Boyle


Dan Hertsgaard, well-known for his years with WCCO Radio, will bring his interests, abilities and pride for community to the fourth annual Elk River Independence Day program at Lions Park.festivitiesMAP

The Elk River man, who worked for WCCO from 1977 to 2002, has agreed to serve as the master of ceremonies, but with one caveat.

He asked for a chance to pay tribute to law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency personnel, to which members of the citizen-led volunteer Elk River Independence Day Committee easily agreed.

“These people are our heroes,” he told members of the committee at a recent meeting.

His tribute to law enforcement will be part of an exciting Independence Day program slated to start at 4 p.m., July 4. It will include keynote speeches from Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin who will talk about what Independence Day means to them, having just got back from a trip to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France.

There will also be an Elk River Idol contest and music from local acts aimed at making the big time.

“Herts,” as he’s known from his days on CBS’ flagship station, said he plans to treat the event as a pep rally of sorts for the Elk River community.

“I’m proud to live here,” he said. “I have always been impressed with how nice people are who live here and how well they work together, especially in these times.”

Hertsgaard said Independence Day is a good day to remember and appreciate what we have. The Elk River Fourth of July celebration will build upon the Powered by Nature branding initiative of the community, with members of the committee proclaiming the community-centric event Powered by Independence and Energized by Fireworks.

The Independence Day Committee consists of individuals from the community and representatives of businesses, government and community organizations, who assemble the program and raise the funds for it and the fireworks display that caps it all off.

“Community arises out of a need to survive,” he said. “We’re able to grow and prosper with this mutual help.”

Hockey Day Minnesota 2014 in Elk River is another example of the Elk River’s ability to bring groups together and work together.

“We have wonderful freedoms (here in America), and the big city has so much to offer. But our community, … with its mixture of outdoors and niceties nestled along the Mississippi River, has not lost its charm,” Hertsgaard said.

Helping punctuate Hertsgaard’s tribute to law enforcement will be a North Memorial helicopter landing during the opening hour of the program.

Hustvedt, a middle school social studies teacher in Elk River, and Martin, an Otsego teenager who is a senior at Blaine High School, will be the keynote speakers. This student-teacher duo got back May 27 from a trip to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France, where they eulogized Virgil Tangborn, a northern Minnesota soldier who died in the D-Day invasion during World War II. They were among 15 select student-teacher duos to make the trek. They will talk about what Independence Day 2013 means to them, after having a chance to reflect on a 12-day odyssey that took them to the beaches of Normandy.

The Elk River High School alumni jazz band will not perform this year, as the Elk River band program is headed to Ireland on July 5.

Winners of the Sandhill Photography contest and the Reading Frenzy essay contest will be announced.

Elk River Idol will follow at 5 p.m., and two bands featuring local talent will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.: The Wrong Omar Band, featuring Joe Shaheen of Elk River and special guest Becky Shaheen, who plays in a band with fellow Elk River High School graduates. Shane Martin, who was born and raised in Albertville, will headline the show again this year.

The Elk River Independence Day Committee has ordered another $15,000 fireworks show from RES Pyrotechnics, thanks the contributions of many businesses, organizations and individuals. Donations will be collected at the event for next year’s show.

“This will be fun,” Hertsgaard said.

Shaheens bring their show home to Elk River 

by Jim Boyle


With The Shane Martin Band back in the headline spot for the fourth annual Elk River Independence Day celebration, the Independence Day Committee welcomes a new band to the Lions Park stage.shaheens photo No. 2

The Wrong Omar, billed as original folk rockers and featuring singer and songwriter Joe Shaheen, will put on a full band show at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 4. The show will include special guest Becky Shaheen.

Joe and Becky, a father-daugther duo, are both from Elk River.

The Wrong Omar will be continuing with its “Sled Dawg Slushy” tour in support of the recent release “Shoot Up The Town.”

Members of the group from the Twin Cities are Bob Groethe (guitar), Tom Hels (drums) and Chuck Gordon (bass) plus a special guest appearance by Jim Benelisha, a cellist from Johnson City, Tenn.Shaheens Photo No. 1

The Wrong Omar has been touring the U.S., singing “sidewalk confessionals of bad choices” with a tongue-in-cheek curmudgeon persona for old souls of all ages.

This full band show follows a string of radio and TV performances throughout the Southeast and Midwest. Soulful work on the piano leads to a set of guitar-harp and foot tambo songs.

Becky Shaheen, an Elk River and Augsburg graduate, said she’s never been afraid of experimenting musically.

“I’ve never been able to write in strictly one style. I can write a heavier rock tune and a delicate guitar lullaby back to back,” she said. “Perhaps I’m still trying to find my ‘style,’ but for now it is worth feeling out many different genres.”

Becky Shaheen played in a band of hers called “The Midnight Hour,” with gigs at 7th Street Entry and The Fine Line in downtown Minneapolis. Becky’s voice has appeared on a Super Bowl commercial among other things.

After enjoying mild success with her band The Midnight Hour, Becky has been on many Midwest and southern tours with her father Joe Shaheen, where they have taken turns backing up one another.

They have been performing all over the country, most recently playing in Wisconsin, Chicago, Duluth and Grand Marais. Joe Shaheen has also performed solo across the country, too.

The Wrong Omar will perform on July 3 at the Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis.

The Independence Day show in Elk River will give them a chance to show off their musical talent together locally for the first time.

“They say the hardest gig to get is your own hometown,” Joe Shaheen said. “But I think it’s a perfect fit.”

For more information on the band, visit www.reverbnation.com/thewrongomar.

Hustvedt talk on D.C. and Normandy; Elk River Idol and fireworks to highlight Lions Park Independence Day program

Opening ceremonies 4-5 p.m.Master of ceremonies: Retired WCCO radio broadcaster Dan Hertsgaard of Elk River.• A special salute to local law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency personnel by Hertsgaard.• Speakers: Salk Middle School teacher Ron Hustvedt and Matti Martin of Otsego will talk about what Independence Day means to them after having recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., and Normandy, France, as part of an exhaustive study of World War II and the invasion at Normandy.The opening ceremonies will also include:• National Anthem.• Flag Presentation by Elk River Police Honor Guard and Elk River Cub and Boy Scouts.• Three-round volley by Elk River Police Honor Guard.• Pledge of Allegiance.• Reading of Declaration of Independence (Preamble).

• North Memorial Air Care helicopter landing.

Elk River Idol 5-6 p.m.:

Twelve contestants advanced during a May competition at Zabee Theater. They will compete in three age categories.

The Wrong Omar Band 6:30-8 p.m.:

The Wrong Omar Band, featuring Joe Shaheen and special guest Becky Shaheen.

The Shane Martin Band 8:30-10:15 p.m.:

The Shane Martin Band returns for an encore presentation to headline this year’s Independence Day celebration. The show will run right up to the fireworks show.

Fireworks 10:15 p.m.:Hertsgaard 2012-Fireworks_19

A $15,000 fireworks show will be put on by RES Pyrotechnics out of Belle Plaine.

 Activities and refreshments:

East side of Lions Park:

Elk River Boys and Girls clubs, open from 4-7 p.m.; bounce houses and games by District 728 Community Education; Gamin’ Trailer; climbing wall by Army National Guard; and bingo for adults and families, put on by the Elk River VFW.

West side of Lions Park:

Water slide, hair extensions, tattoos, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and food by Curbside Dining, Dunn Bros. and Cold Stone Creamery.

schedule photo no. 2At The Crossing Church:

Bounce house and candy.

For more information, visit www.elkriver4th.com or go to the Elk River 4th Facebook page.