Enjoy the best of the riverfront on the 4th of July


As always, the east side of the Mississippi riverfront between the Stone Arch Bridge and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge will be a lively place this July 4, 2006. There’s no parade this year, except for the panoply of people, dogs, and funny helmeted folks rolling by on Segway scooters that you always see on summer days by the river. But maybe that’s the best attraction of all: the opportunity to sit back with a cold drink on a patio and watch the parade of humanity (and caninity?) strolling along, with the river and skyline as a beautiful backdrop.

As usual, there will be a soundtrack for your people watching, too. From 3 to 6 p.m., T. Albert Lloyd and the Kingpin will play blues-based rock on the St. Anthony Main stage, followed by the pop/rock of Grayson from 7 to 10 p.m. On another stage set up on Main Street, Stockcar Named Desire will play from 5 to 7:30 p.m., followed by Mick Sterling from 8 to 10 p.m.

And that’s not all. If you want to head up East Hennepin a couple of blocks to University Avenue, you can hear more music at Keegan’s Irish Pub, which will host a tent party at 5:00 p.m., with music from Joel Schaan, Test Site 67, and Molly Maher and Her Disbelievers.

But here are a few other tips, from a local, for how to enjoy your time at the riverfront when you need a break from the crush of the crowds:

1. Catch a movie at the Stone Arch Cinema. This not a cool, funky theater, like the Riverview or the Heights, but it’s a cozy, comfortable neighborhood place to catch the latest films and, for better or worse, it is never, ever crowded. Shows playing tomorrow are Click, The Da Vince Code, The Devil Wears Prada, Nacho Libre, and Superman Returns. I’m not going to bother with the first two myself, but I really enjoyed Nacho Libre and am looking forward to Meryl Streep as a sinister fashionista.

2. Wander onto Nicollet Island: Cross over the bridge from Main Street to Nicollet Island and turn left to walk down to the eastern tip of the island (great place for kids to throw rocks into the river) or turn right and walk the streets of the island, enjoying the funky historic houses. On the north side, you can follow the wooded trail along the river onto Boom Island, where kids can play on swings and slides. Watch out for the wildlife on the Island; just last week my son was playing there with a friend when they came across a deer in the woods.

3. Check out the Surdyk’s Wine Sale: Open 10 to 6 on the Fourth of July, Surdyk’s (303 E. Henneping) is currently holding their summer wine sale, where you can get great deals on everything, from Italian whites to go with your pasta to shirazes to enjoy with your grilled steaks. And don’t miss the Cheese Shop, where, in addition to millions of cheeses, you can get the best salads, soups, and sandwiches. Not to be missed: the grilled reubens and savory Muffetta sandwiches.

4. Have a martini at Nye’s: If you’re getting too much sun and want to find a place where the sun never shines, duck in for a cold drink at Nye’s. You’ll get so cool and comfortable you may just want to stay for a T-bone and a few show tunes.

5. Bring a blanket and enjoy the 10-Second Film Fest. It’s the second annual at the Soap Factory, located between Main Street and Second Street at Fifth Avenue SE. Grab a spot in the overgrown, grassy area behind the gallery and settle in for a great many very short films, all of which have been created using gadgets such as cell phones and still cameras. No editing is allowed, but beer is, and bug spray is highly recommended. The films are a great, late-night antidote to the excessive patriotism and commercial hype of our great national holiday.