Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From fireworks to face masks… July 9, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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An over-sized American flag flies along Interstate 90 near Madison, Wisconsin, on the Fourth of July.


MADISON, WISCONSIN on the Fourth of July is, if anything, noisy. Loud with fireworks. We sat on the balcony of our son’s apartment in the Atwood neighborhood the evening of July 4 and watched and listened as fireworks spread across the night sky. Left. Right. And in between. No fireworks from an organized official public show, but from neighborhoods.


A pop-up fireworks tent in Mauston, where we stopped for a picnic lunch.


Randy and I arrived in the capital city in the early afternoon, passing numerous fireworks businesses en route. A temporary tent in Mauston. A permanent fireworks building in some other location along Interstate 90 that I can’t recall.


A large-scale fireworks business just off I-90 near Madison.


Wisconsinites like to do it up big with their fireworks, brats, beer and cheese.


Lots of campers on I-90.


Traffic volumes were heavy along I-90 and the city of Madison thrumming with people and traffic. You could forget for a moment or ten that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic except for the people wearing masks and the electronic road signs advising travelers to “buckle up and mask up.”


A public service announcement flashes over I-90. I saw this message numerous times along I-90. Thank you, Wisconsin, for the reminder.


I appreciate the message. And I appreciate, too, the many people I saw in Madison wearing face masks, showing their care and concern for others. We could learn a thing or two from the good folks of Madison about the importance of wearing masks. (At least here in many parts of greater southern Minnesota. Thank you, Rochester, Mankato and Winona, Minnesota, for mandating mask wearing. St. Paul and Minneapolis, too.)

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Winterfest, Take Two December 10, 2018

Source: Faribault Main Street Facebook page


A spectacular fireworks show, sort of July 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:49 AM
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The most magnificent of fireworks displays, viewed by millions.

THIS WAS, WITHOUT QUESTION, the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen.

Multiple fireworks shot simultaneously above the water, exploding non-stop in the night sky like “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”

I sat riveted, in awe, wondering how the pyrotechnicians managed this show, this exact timing, this magnificence before me.

Coordinated with patriotic songs like The Battle Hymn of the Republic and The Star Spangled Banner, this Fourth of July fireworks show impressed and inspired. I’d never seen such a spectacular scene on Independence Day.

Yet, something was missing. And, truth be told, watching fireworks from the comfort of a La-Z-Boy recliner in your air conditioned living room simply does not measure up to sitting outdoors on a lawn chair in a mid-sized Minnesota town watching fireworks soar, one by one, into the air.

For the first time in forever, my family skipped the local fireworks show, choosing instead to view the annual Macy’s fireworks extravaganza televised from New York.

Although the show ranked beyond impressive, I missed the experience of lounging outside, gazing at the expansive sky, anticipating each burst, hearing the ooooohs and the aaaaahs, the cheering, the clapping.

But I didn’t miss the mosquitoes, droning and diving, circling and attacking, and the reason we opted for a bug-free front row seat beside the Hudson River.

Fireworks over the Hudson River, as seen on my television from my La-Z-Boy recliner in Minnesota.

Text © Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling