The Magic Smelt Parade: A silly, meaningful tradition

The Magic Smelt Parade: A silly, meaningful tradition
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 7:48 PM CDT|Updated: May. 28, 2023 at 11:12 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- It’s the time of year when smelt descend upon Lake Superior, but in Canal Park, they seem to have jumped the shore Sunday.

The glint of silver shined off hand-made costumes, puppets, and tin foil on the Lakewalk.

“Well, there are things you can only do in Northern Minnesota, and this is one of them,” said Linda Hedlund, a Duluth resident.

Although non-Northlanders may find it fishy, for locals, it’s a tradition.

“It gets important for people to make traditions and keep on doing those traditions just to feel grounded in a sense of community,” said Ingrid Overchuk, a Duluth resident.

And what tradition would have hundreds of people walking along Canal Park following the stilt-walking royal guard of the Smelt Queen? The Magic Smelt Parade of course.

After 11 years, people from the area dive into the parade for many different reasons.

“I can’t wait to see the Queen, the Smelt Queen!” exclaimed Hedlund.

“I’m just excited to parade with all these other wonderful people and have people from out-of-town wondering what on Earth we’re doing,” said Overchuk.

And for out-of-towners, that’s exactly what they were thinking.

However, for them, the charm of the Magic Smelt Parade didn’t come from the Smelt Queen or her royal guards, but the smile on everyone’s faces.

“The smelt parade was so unique; I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Mary Louie, who was visiting Duluth for the weekend. “With all the tinfoil, the silver, the fish, and kids, older people, it’s wonderful.”

But the parade signifies one thing to everyone, even those just visiting for the weekend, spring has sprung.

“It has been a long winter,” said Maggie Scheffer, who was visiting Duluth for the weekend. “It’s just great to see everyone outdoors on bikes, and scooters, and walking, and enjoying the day while doing goofy things.”

And what better way to enjoy the shining sun than doing it in a smelty way.

“You have to look for joy wherever you can find it,” said Hedlund.

The festivities didn’t stop at Canal Park.

The parade made its way to Zeitgeist to snack on, of course, fried smelt.

Click here to download the Northern News Now app or our Northern News Now First Alert weather app.