NORTH MANKATO — Rachel Norman had her hands full Friday morning keeping her eye on her four sons at North Mankato Fun Days.
It’s a hard enough job on a cool day. Factor in the extreme heat and humidity and the need for added precautions such as extra water, one would think Norman would be too busy to have any fun at Fun Days. But she sees the glass half full.
“Compared to the last several days, this is great,” said Norman of Waseca.
Fun Days seemed to be filled with glass half-full kind of folks midday Friday. Due to the anticipated heat index, Lifeworks decided not to bring a group of people out to the festival as planned for the annual Special Needs Carnival. The carnival allows people of all ages with disabilities to go on rides and eat popcorn, cotton candy and other fair foods at no charge.
But Kristen Schendel wasn’t going to let her sister, Heather, miss out on that kind of fun. So Kristen went and picked Heather up herself and brought her to the carnival.
“She actually really loves the rides,” Kristen said.
Kristen was at Fun Days Thursday night, too. And while she agrees the heat is “really bad,” Friday midday was tolerable.
“It was way worse last night,” Kristen said.
But Fun Days coordinator Denny Kemp said even Thursday night’s oven-like heat index didn’t keep folks away from the beer garden, which came as a nice surprise. Usually when opening day is after the Fourth, numbers are down because people are out of town or may have other plans. This year attendance was up, he said.
Wristband sales were strong Thursday, too, he said.
“We were multi-line deep on all the rides,” Kemp said.
He said there have been no heat emergencies reported at the fest. But as a precaution due to the forecasted heat index Friday night, organizers decided to cut the Kiddie Parade route by half.
“With little kids, they can be going along fine and all of a sudden they’re done,” Kemp said.
Deanna Petersen brought her daughters, Katie, 9, and Destiny, 14, to Fun Days Friday morning. Usually, she and the girls go to the parade, but they thought they’d check out the carnival this year. The heat? Not a problem when you’re a hardy Minnesotan.
“When you live here, you just adjust,” Petersen said.