A parade float that could really float

float navy
Image from Hennepin History Museum’s collection.

The Minneapolis Aquatennial was the highlight of summer during the 1940s. Much of the water-focused festival took place in or by the city’s lakes and rivers, but at other times Aquatennial brought the water to the streets. While this photo is undated, it likely dates to the wartime years. The Aquatennial had a military affairs committee during World War II, and its parades featured large numbers of floats and bands representing both government and civilian war-related organizations. The Navy, shown here, had a built-in advantage: They were, after all, particularly well suited for a parade with a nautical theme. In 1944, an estimated 350,000 people showed up to view the Aquatennial’s opening parade.

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