The Smelt Parade That Wasn’t

Duluth Smelt Parade

A party of one: the 2014 Duluth Smelt Parade.

An annual Smelt Parade is held in Duluth to welcome the spring run of this tasty silvery little fish. Although the runs are much smaller than they used to be (which is a good thing because smelt are non-native) the fish still serves as a unique celebration of abundance and a cultural reminder that spring is on its way. For the past two years, the parade has been spearheaded by a local puppet troupe. Citizens make costumes and participate in the procession along the shores of Lake Superior, complete with a brass band.

I’ve never attended the parade, so today I committed to going. Wouldn’t you know it, this year the wind, rain and 35-degree-temperatures made it “the parade that wasn’t.” I was hoping to get a lot of fun images to share, but all I got was this single photo of a “parade of one” that happened outside a local arts café where the rag-tag group of parade-goers gathered indoors instead of walking along the shores of Lake Superior.

Oh well. Better luck next year. If you’d like to learn more about smelt, Minnesota Sea Grant offers a great fact sheet.

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3 thoughts on “The Smelt Parade That Wasn’t

  1. I’ve only eaten it once or twice, but it is quite good! You must be talking about all the oil it’s often fried in. When I notice packages of it at our local Cub Foods store, I know it must be spring.

  2. Thanks for the Sea Grant shout out. I went the first year when it was quite lively. I can understand why this year was a bust. The smelt haven’t started running yet, either.

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