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History in the making...

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Waterama History

Now in its 64th year, Glenwood Waterama has been pleasing crowds for generations. Founded in 1956, it is one of the longest running community festivals in Minnesota.


The very first year, organizers hoped to attract between 5,000-10,000 people to the festivities—and ended up hosting 23,000. And Waterama was off and running! Events that first year included a Friday night button dance, followed by seven events on Saturday including a golf tournament, kiddie parade, swimming races,  boat races, a waterski show and the night pontoon parade. The 100-unit Grande Day Parade was a feature from the very first Waterama, along with the coronation, fireworks and a coronation ball on Sunday night.


Each year, new events are added to the originals. A community church service was added in 1964, a mini marathon in 1974, and the first Minnewaska Showstoppers musical was added in 1978.


Today’s Glenwood Waterama truly has something for everyone. In addition to the three parades, there are craft, car and waterski shows, a medallion hunt, book sales and sand sculptures. There are kid-friendly events in the park and sporting events for those who like to bike, swim, run, golf or play tennis, softball, volleyball or soccer.


The first several years, the event was held in August, but after organizers consulted the Farmer’s Almanac and discovered that the last weekend in July was historically the sunniest weekend of the summer with the least rain, the event was moved to that weekend. Since 1959, Waterama has always been the “Last Full Weekend in July.”


Fun Facts

Waterama Fun Facts

• The Waterama Queen’s photo first appeared on the 7th Waterama button.

• At the first Waterama, organizers expected to attract 5,000 – 10,000 people to the festivities, and ended up hosting 23,000 visitors.

• WCCO Television filmed during the 1958 Waterama, Bob Schaeffer reporting.

• Two Waterama queens have surrendered their crowns when selected as Minneapolis Aquatennial royalty –
Pam Erickson and Carrie Nevitt.

• The name “Glenwood Waterama” was selected from 75 suggestions in a 1956 contest.  Mrs. M.J. Johnson,
Westport, won $15 for her winning name.

• President Eisenhower declined the invitation to attend the 1956 Waterama.  Senator Hubert H. Humphrey
planned to attend until the date change which conflicted with the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

• Arlys Nelson, Miss Glenwood 1955, appeared on Chick McCluen’s noon news show on WCCO TV in June 1956.

• The first Waterama queen was crowned by Miss Minnesota, Marie Miller, assisted by Miss Glenwood, Arlys Nelson.

• The 2020 Waterama was put on pause due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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